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a constructive policy 
for Britain 



OUP 68 1 1-1-682,000. 

OSMANIA UNIVERSITY LIBRARY 

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THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

A CONSTRUCTIVE POLICY 
for BRITAIN 




THE CULTIVATOR 



THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

A CONSTRUCTIVE POLICY 
for BRITAIN 



Prepared by a Committee of the 
Rural Reconstruction Association 

With a foreword by 
Lord O'Hagan and Michael Beaumont, M.P. 

and an illustration by 
Elizabeth 3&ke Jenkins 



GEORGE ALLEN & tJNWIN LTD 
MUSEUM STREET 



FIRST PUBLISHED IN GREAT BRITAIN IN 



All rights reserved 

Printed in Great Britain by 
THE RIVERSIDE PKESS, EDINBURGH 



FOREWORD 

THE importance of this book to the nation to-day depends 
on two quite simple things. 

The first that every social and economic problem from 
Unemployment to War is linked up with the revival 
of agriculture, and none can be dealt with until that 
question is solved. Such a revival is therefore of 
fundamental importance to the nation. 

The second that this particular problem of the revival 
of agriculture is very little understood. Indeed, whilst 
very many books and reports have been issued in recent 
years disparaging proposals for the restoration of agri- 
culture to its proper place in our national life, not one, 
so far as we are aware, has been issued in the last twelve 
years giving the case for this restoration. The public is 
therefore uninformed of the material facts. This book 
gives the information that is needed. 

There is another point that deserves to be mentioned 
here. The simple way in which the book is written, 
whilst it disarms criticism, may give the impression that 
the analysis is superficial and therefore the conclusions 
incorrect. It is therefore important that readers should 
understand that the Rural Reconstruction Association 
has been dealing continuously with this problem for 
eleven years, during which time the Executive Committee, 
meeting once a month, has given detailed attention to 
every aspect of the question either as it arose or more 

5 



6 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

often in advance. Careful inquiries on all features of 
the problem have concurrently been made in this 'and 
other countries and we believe that no aspect of the 
subject has been left unexplored. No investigation of 
this character has, so far as we are aware, ever been 
made into this or any other social or economic problem. 
We have no hesitation in recommending the book to 
the nation. 

O'HAGAN, President, 

MICHAEL BEAUMONT, Chairman of Council, 
Rural Reconstruction Association. 

May 1936. 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

Foreword 5 

PART ONE 
INTRODUCTORY 

I. The Problem in History II 

n. Comments on Economics 25 

ill. The Case for Rural Revival 30 

PART TWO 
A NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL POLICY 

IV. Some General Considerations 49 

v. Standard Prices 59 

VI. Organisation of Distribution and Processing 72 

VII. Regulation of Imports 86 

vni. Balancing Supply and Demand 93 

IX. Finance 99 

PART THREE 

THE NATIONAL ORGANISATION 
OF AGRICULTURE 

x. An Agricultural Federation and a National 

Food Council 103 

XI. A Final Comment 115 

Appendix 117 

Bibliography 133 

Index 135 



PART ONE 
INTRODUCTORY 



CHAPTER I 
THE PROBLEM IN HISTORY 

OUR reason for approaching the subject first from the 
historical standpoint comes from a belief that it is only 
from the study of history that we can secure a right 
perspective. We doubt whether investigations of current 
conditions alone lead to solutions, whatever their 
value in other ways. Conditions vary in every country 
and change every day; there is nothing which the mind 
can take hold of, and their study may, if widely extended, 
tend to superficiality and even to intellectual chaos. On 
the other hand, the historical method of inquiry the 
tracing of matters to and from their origin should 
result in seeing the problem as a growth, rather than 
as an incident in current life. A clear picture is thus 
obtained and the principles that govern social life in all 
time emerge. Moreover, the mind so equipped, seems 
to turn naturally from looking back to looking forward. 
We suggest then that the study of our social problems 
should be in time as well as in space. Or, to state the 
same point in a different form, it is from a study of 
origins that we secure results. 

This study of origins is always illuminating. Students 
of the twin problems of employment and of unemploy- 
ment work and leisure is a better phrase will be well 
advised to look back at primitive society and meditate 

ii 



12 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

on the two problems as they must then have arisen: 
thereafter they should trace in outline the developments 
that occurred in the growth of civilisation. This done, 
a solution will occur to the mind. 

It is, however, not necessary to go back to primitive 
society to get a clear grasp of the special problem that 
we have to deal with in Britain's agriculture to-day, for 
ihe origin of that problem is comparatively modern. 
The trouble arose, we suggest, in the eighteenth century 
when, behind the smoke screen created by religious 
hysteria, our national economic policy was turned into 
a new channel. It ceased to be controlled by the realism 
that had prevailed up to Tudor times, and began to be 
influenced by abstract ideas which became more and 
more powerful as generations passed. To-day the nation 
is returning once more, unconsciously perhaps, to a 
realistic outlook. So inspired we come quite naturally, 
without perhaps thinking much about it, to the adoption 
of the same economic policy that the earlier realists had 
employed : the fixing of prices and wages, the control of 
distribution, the regulation of imports, the balancing of 
supply and demand, the provision of funds for con- 
structive work, and the development of Land Settlement 
for the unemployed. Although plans for dealing with 
these particular issues seem to many to be new, they are 
not so. Such plans are constantly found in earlier social 
systems when realistic ideas governed economic policy, 
and their practical working can be studied in this country 
in Tudor times and indeed earlier. 

The suggestion recently put forward that the various 



THE PROBLEM IN HISTORY 13 

branches of industry should be controlled functionally 
by* Federations is also the natural outcome of realistic 
methods of thought, and can be studied in English history 
in the life and work of the Guilds. 1 

The same realistic outlook when applied to the proper 
use of leisure also leads us to see the value of music, 
pageants and plays, and a rich social life in the country- 
side, and therefore to advocate their revival. 

We can begin with advantage our study of realistic 
economic policy by considering its results in country 
life, as it was in the times of Queen Elizabeth, before the 
great change in our economic system came about. 

The cultivators of the land, freed from feudal domi- 
nance, were at that time in the main free peasants : they 
were not, as they became later, under the control of the 
financiers, the traders, and the larger landowners and 
farmers. Further, although the power of the Catholic 
Church had weakened, much of its beneficial social 
influence remained. Holy days remained as holidays, 
and there were many of them : on an average, perhaps, 
one a week. The dour influence of Puritanism had not 
yet spread through the villages, and the importance of 
cultivating the gentle art of happiness was recognised. 
Under these conditions, the free peasant, finding that 
he could easily produce, in a few days in every week, 
more material wealth than his simple needs demanded, 
was dealing with the problem which to-day we call 

1 The Guild system was never extended to agriculture ; the village 
farms were, however, largely controlled by a_ communal system, 
which, like the Guilds, had a functional basis. See also p. 107. 



14 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

"over-production," by cultivating both leisure and 
pleasure. "This fellow is wise enough to play the fool," 
says Shakespeare. Fynes Moryson, writing early in the 
seventeenth century, tells much of the English village 
life, with its sports and pastimes, in which all classes took 
their part. "What," he quaintly writes, "shall I say 
of daunsing with Curious and rurall musicke, frequently 
used by the better sort, and upon all hollydayes by 
country people daunsing about the Maypooles with 
bagpipes and other Fidlers, besydes the jollityes of 
certain seasons of the yeare, of setting up may-pooles 
daunsing the morris with hobby horses, bringing home 
the lady of the harvest, and like Plebean sportes in all 
which vanityes no nation commeth any thing neere the 
English." 

Free then from the controls that had dominated his 
life in the past and were to dominate him in the future, 
the natural Englishman was building up in the country- 
side his natural life. This life was undoubtedly in many 
aspects crude and barbaric, and it is not necessary to be 
enthusiastic about it. But it is useful to visualise it, for 
it had certain important characteristics which depended, 
as the life of a commimity always must, on the economic 
policy of the nation, and it is this that we have to examine. 

The traditional English policy, interwoven with ethical 
considerations, was, consciously or unconsciously, directed 
to protecting the interests of the producer and consumer: 
the financier and the trader were to be their servants and 
not their masters. It was concerned in creating material 
wealth, but it gave due importance to spiritual wealth; 



THE PROBLEM IN HISTORY 15 

it recognised the importance of the health of the people 
and their happiness in their work and play. 

In pursuit of these ideas trade and industry were 
controlled, and it is the form that this control took which 
deserves special and careful study. It was customary 
to regulate wages and also to fix prices at a fair level 
to maintain the just price as it was called in those days, 
the standard price of to-day. Next, the problem of 
distribution was dealt with, crudely and drastically, and 
not in the scientific way that we now propose to introduce. 
The dealer, the man who merely bought at one price 
and sold at another, and so upset the economic system, 
was liable to be fined, imprisoned, put into the pillory, 
and even expelled from his home. The farmer could 
sell his wheat to the miller, the miller his flour to the 
baker and the baker his bread to the public at regulated 
prices. Overseas trade, though much of it differed 
fundamentally from trade in its modern form, being 
rather of the nature of an adventure or gamble, might 
also be regulated with a view to equalising supply and 
demand. The lender of money, the predecessor of the 
banker, was even more strictly controlled than the dealer. 
The peasant, a producer of wealth, was protected. 
Although there was considerable enclosure of the com- 
munal village farms, enclosure had no support from 
the Government, and was in fact restricted when it 
became too frequent. 

No doubt the economic problems were simpler than 
they are to-day, but in their main outline they have not 
changed. The point to see clearly is that they were 



1 6 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

approached from a different viewpoint, the policy was 
realistic. Although at the end of the reign of Queen 
Elizabeth this realistic policy was losing some of its 
directing force, it was not until the following century 
that definite changes began. 

It was the development of the gaiety and leisure of the 
country people that seems first to have disturbed the 
rulers of European countries and probably those of 
England. The cultivators of the land ought to work 
harder and produce more. Fynes Moryson defines this 
outlook, translating thus a Latin tag : 

The country clownes do best when they do weepe 
And worst when they in plenty laugh and sleepe. 

This, we gather, was becoming the rulers' outlook. 

Inspired maybe in the main by this idea, although also 
influenced by the Puritan prejudice against pleasure, 
sports, cruel and otherwise, were forbidden in this 
country, maypoles were pulled down, acting was a sin, 
dancing was discouraged, singing was to be limited to 
psalm singing. Saints' days ceased to be holidays: 
"it was considered lawful," says Markham, "to be well 
occupied on holydays," and the six days 5 working week 
began. Moreover, whilst in many parts of Europe the 
free peasantry was being re-enserfed, in England a 
different policy was pursued. Enclosures were no longer 
discouraged, and so the free peasants, deprived of their 
land, began to be degraded into labourers. All these 
points should be noted, without the dangerous element 
of sentiment which destroys judgment, as the outward 



THE PROBLEM IN HISTORY IJ 

signs of a change of economic policy. In the later policy, 
reflected in its emphasis on the desirability of hard work 
rather than happy living, we may find, if we examine it 
closely, the origin of the modern problem of "over- 
production." 

Another important change of economic policy has to 
be noted. Up to the seventeenth century control by 
finance had been feared and the lender of money at 
interest was looked on as the enemy of the people. 
Calvin, however, had attacked the Catholic teaching 
against usury, and had gone some way to defend interest. 
His view was developed with the growth of Protestantism 
and even seems to have been accompanied by a tacit 
alliance between the Protestant and financial interests. 
In any case it is clear that, from about the middle of the 
seventeenth century, the lending of money at interest was 
not being treated as a social evil; one outcome was the 
establishment, towards the end of that century, of the 
Bank of England. From that time until the present day, 
finance has steadily increased its power, sometimes no 
doubt for better, and sometimes for worse. 

In the next the eighteenth century we find all these 
tendencies growing stronger. The English peasant was 
being degraded into a labourer and joy was being taken 
out of country life: work, not life, was to be the main 
thing. Concurrently, finance was increasing its power. 
But the more spectacular change that came in the 
eighteenth century was the growing dominance of the 
dealers and other traders, the men who bought at one 
price and sold at another and thus undermined the idea 

2 



1 8 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

of a just price as between the producer and the consumer. 
The truth that trade was a two-edged tool that might 
do good or evil was being forgotten and in its place it 
began to be argued that as an exchange of goods and 
services it was from its very nature bound to be beneficial. 
Dealing began to be defended. Adam Smith who, like 
many of his followers, based his economic theories on 
unproved dogmas rather than on facts, asserted, in op- 
position to the popular view based on experience, that 
"Dealers are no more to be feared than witchcraft." 
Under the influence of such ideas the policy of supporting 
the economic price-level by regulating distribution 
gradually dissolved. 

At the same time opposition arose to the traditional 
policy of fixing rates of wages and a bill introduced into 
Parliament in 1795 to secure a minimum rate was de- 
feated. Thereafter a system of family allowances, first 
introduced by magistrates at Speenhamland in Berkshire, 
was adopted in many parts of England and continued 
until abolished by legislation in 1834. From that time 
onwards it became a general practice to leave wages to 
be settled by bargaining between farmers and labourers. 

In the last year of the eighteenth century Pitt, following 
Adam Smith, persuaded the Government of the day, 
whilst import duties were retained, to withdraw its 
support to restrictions on internal dealing. Price 
regulations also disappeared about that time and as a 
general result prices fluctuated to an extraordinary 
extent. A chaotic period prevailed in rural life for the 
first forty years of the nineteenth century. Enclosure 



THE PROBLEM IN HISTORY 19 

and appropriation of the peasants' farms continued, with 
the" result that almost everywhere the modern system 
of landlord, tenant and labourer became established. 
Dealers and traders spread over the countryside. Bankers 
and other lenders of money became established in most 
market towns of importance : everyone was tempted to 
run into debt. It became also a common custom for 
bankers to create and control their own money by issue 
of their own bank notes; this practice gave them a 
peculiar power. The position of the traders and dealers 
was strengthened by a banker's practice of financing 
those classes, who then in their turn lent money to the 
farmers at high rates of interest. Traders and financiers 
thus secured control of the situation: the producers 
became, to a large extent, their servants. 

The confusion was so great that in the forties the 
country was brought to believe, by skilful propaganda, 
that the central evil was not the dominance of the financier 
and trader, but arose from the import duties. In despair 
the removal of the duties was accepted by the nation. 
This secured both internal and external freedom to trade. 
The result, the country had been assured, would be the 
fixing of prices at an economic level. Wheat prices, the 
farmers were told, would settle down round about 458. 
a quarter: in fact in the half century following the 
abolition of the Corn Laws they varied between about 
iys. 6d. and loos, a quarter. From that time onward 
prices were left to take care of themselves. The view 
put forward at that time in support of this policy deserves 
to be stated since it is still widely believed. Prices, it 



20 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

was said, interlocked with supply and demand on which 
they depended, whilst such fluctuations in price as took 
place would regulate automatically the supply and the 
demand. As a result, it was argued, both prices and 
supply and demand, controlled by economic laws, would 
automatically adjust themselves. It does not seem to 
have occurred to the theorists of that time that various 
things affect prices besides supply and demand, whilst 
other things affect supply and demand besides prices. 
The law of supply and demand, as it was called, is a 
myth, but it was myths that controlled economic thought 
in the nineteenth century, and it was to this myth that 
agriculture was sacrificed. 

Although, as a result of complete free trade, prices 
fluctuated wildly, and the dealers, traders and financiers 
steadily strengthened their position, farmers did not, 
for nearly half a century, suffer unduly; prices in 
all branches of agriculture fluctuated up and down, but 
there were always, or almost always, some branches of 
agriculture in which profits were good, and so some 
chance of making money, of which the more versatile 
farmers took full advantage. Moreover farmers were 
able to base their economic life on the presence of a 
mass of semi-serf, highly skilled, grossly underpaid, and 
incredibly hard-working labourers. Nevertheless, this 
poverty of the land worker and the corresponding poverty 
of the workers in the towns, whilst it undermined the 
home market did not in itself undermine, as it might well 
have done, our economic life. Indeed, the evil was not 
pven detected, for the loss of home trade was more than 



THE PROBLEM IN HISTORY 21 

counterbalanced by the rapid development of overseas 
trade : whilst the emigration of that part of the population 
that would otherwise have drifted into permanent un- 
employment, alleviated the situation. It was not till 
the last quarter of the nineteenth century that the policy 
adopted in the first half had its full effect and there was 
a collapse in agriculture. 

In the first decade of the present century a new wave 
of thought began to emerge. It indicated a return to 
realism. Its outward signs in the countryside were the 
passing of the Acts for resettlement of the people in 
small holdings and the foundation of the Agricultural 
Organisation Society. This Society attempted, without 
sufficient knowledge of the subject, and so without much 
success, to undermine the power of the trader and the 
financier and to apply co-operative methods amongst 
producers to organise agricultural marketing and finance. 
The whole problem was faced in a more practical way 
by an organisation called The Land Club Union, which 
consisted of a federation of local organisations or clubs 
of land workers. This organisation stood primarily for 
land settlement, but had for its intellectual background 
the policy laid down in 1925 by the Rural Reconstruction 
Committee, and now being adopted by the nation, that is 
to say, the regulation of wages, the introduction of 
standard, or as they were then called "just" prices, the 
scientific organisation of distribution and the regulation 
of imports. Concurrently came a movement for the 
revival of social life in rural England. We were swinging 
back, in the world of thought at any rate, and to some 



22 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

extent in action, to the traditional outlook of the 
nation. 

The ideas that germinated in the first decade of the 
century began to show fruit in the later years of the Great 
War. Minimum prices were guaranteed for wheat and 
oats, and wages were regulated. Agriculture, the country 
was told, was never again to be allowed to sink into the 
background of national life. Further, immediately after 
the War, land settlement, especially of ex-service men, 
was started on a large scale. This policy did not, however, 
accord with the financial policy of the nation, and in 1921 
it was reversed. Agricultural development was no longer 
to be encouraged; and both guaranteed prices and 
regulated wages were swept away. Although the regula- 
tion of wages was reintroduced in 1924, there was no 
corresponding fixing of prices and no policy for the 
development of agriculture as a whole. As a result the 
million or so of our workers who might have been absorbed 
into agriculture remained permanently unemployed, as 
emigration, which might have drawn off this surplus, 
was stopped by restrictions in other countries. 

Nevertheless the intellectual movement for rural 
revival continued. Various books and pamphlets ex- 
plaining the agricultural problem and giving constructive 
and realistic policies were published. Of these perhaps 
the most important were Agriculture and the Guild System, 
published in I923, 1 and the Report of the Rural Recon- 
struction Committee* This report remains even to-day 

1 Issued by the National Guilds League: King & Son. 

2 Issued under the title 'A National Rural Policy': Noel Douglas. 



THE PROBLEM IN HISTORY 23 

the most comprehensive analysis of the position, and its 
price fixing and marketing proposals have formed the 
basis of subsequent Government policies. The Rural 
Reconstruction Association was formed in 1926 to secure 
national adoption of the proposals put forward in the 
report. Four years later, as a result of intensive pro- 
paganda, these ideas were soaking into the minds of 
politicians and were later embodied in a somewhat 
tentative form in the various Acts of Parliament, 
Marketing Schemes and Administrative Orders adopted 
in the years 1931-35, and in a more complete form in 
the Wheat Act of I932. 1 

At the time of the Ottawa Conference in 1932 the 
Government indicated that they were prepared to give 
the British farmer the first claim on the home market, 
and in the following year Mr Walter Elliott, the Minister 
of Agriculture, 2 announced that his agricultural policy 
was directed to absorbing a large section of the un- 
employed and to securing occupation for an additional 
million workers on the land. Here, however, it seems he 
did not have the support of other members of the 
Government who apparently were not prepared to adopt 
a comprehensive policy. Nor did they face the problem 
as a whole. Though there had been much important 
investigation of details, especially of marketing of food 
products, 3 there was no investigation of the agricultural 

1 See Appendix, note I. 

2 The Rt. Hon. Walter E. Elliott, M.C., F.R.S., Minister of 
Agriculture, 1932-6. 

8 See in particular the Orange Books on marketing issued by the 
Ministry of Agriculture. 



24 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

problem as a whole, an obvious essential to success, 
whilst no suitable and comprehensive form of organisation 
was constructed. Indeed everything in the years 1931-35 
appears to have been carried out in a curiously haphazard 
way. The marketing legislation was operated in a ten- 
tative and piecemeal manner and dealt directly only with 
wheat, milk, hops, potatoes and bacon. Later a subsidy 
was given to fat stock. Concurrently the Government, 
reverting to an older policy, gave protection by means 
of tariffs, varying in amount from time to time, to 
agricultural products with certain specific exceptions. 
Of these exceptions the most important are live animals, 
beef, mutton, pork and bacon, wool, flax and certain 
hides and skins. Preferences or exemptions from duties 
were given to imports from the countries within the 
Empire whilst, on the other hand, temporary special 
duties were imposed on imports from Ireland. At the 
same time imports were regulated under various agree- 
ments with the exporting countries. 

The action taken appears to have aimed at supporting 
the position of the farmers concerned in production of 
specific commodities, and did not deal with agriculture 
as a whole. Nevertheless all these enactments and the 
schemes under which they were enforced, incomplete 
as they are, indicate a new line of policy, following closely 
the lines of the comprehensive proposals of the Rural 
Reconstruction Association. It is these proposals that 
are restated, so far as they relate to marketing and 
production, in a more complete form in the following 
pages of this book. 



CHAPTER II 
COMMENTS ON ECONOMICS 

IT is not possible to deal here in detail with the school 
of thought that has been built up in the last two hundred 
years under the title of "Political Economy," nor with 
the ideas that are beginning to replace the theories of the 
past. The few comments that follow may, however, throw 
light on the economic aspects of the agricultural problem 
as a whole, and on the proposals set out in this work. 

"Political Economy" when founded in the eighteenth 
century appears to have drawn its inspiration from an 
enthusiasm for "The Noble Savage"; it assumed that 
man would be in the future, as he had been in the past, 
essentially a barbarian. It was not by reconciling con- 
flicting interests that we were to develop our civilisation, 
but by fostering a competitive struggle, out of which 
would come what was vaguely called "progress": 
barbaric ideas were the fundamental ideas, and they had 
to be applied to trade and industry. Economic teaching 
therefore gave its blessing to the struggle and propounded 
theories to support its creed. It fostered the trade war, 
the price war, and the class war. The fruit of this 
teaching was seen in the Economic Crisis of 1931. 

A different method of approach is now suggested. 
Economic studies should be directed to finding the best 
way to secure the creation of wealth that is, the pro- 
vision of the things fundamental to a civilised life: 
houses, light and heat, food, and clothing, four purely 

25 



26 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

material things and easily created under modern con- 
ditions; and also health, knowledge and happiness, 
three spiritual elements of civilisation. It is maintained 
that the development of a nation's civilisation depends 
on adjusting and preserving a balance not, as is sometimes 
suggested, between agriculture and industry, but between 
the work of creation in those seven groups; and that a 
large part of our difficulties arises from the under- 
development in this country of the services that go to 
the provision of five of these essentials : houses, food, 
health, knowledge and happiness. It is a mistake merely 
to concentrate energy on producing the material things; 
they have to be created under conditions that accord with 
the development of health, happiness and knowledge. 
That, not financial advantage, is the test. If this be a 
true interpretation, our immediate national economic 
policy should be consciously directed to employing the 
unemployed in the creation of these five specific under- 
developed elements of civilised life: by such a policy 
the unemployed of all classes should be rapidly absorbed 
in creative work. 

A few points may now be noted on which an approach 
to economics based on this outlook leads to opinions 
which differ from the popular views on economic problems, 
opinions themselves derived from the orthodox traditional 
teaching of Political Economy. 

It is constantly said that our evils are due to "great 
economic causes over which we have no control" and 
that "the ultimate cure" of unemployment "can only 
come from international action." Viewed from a more 
realistic standpoint this explanation may be doubted. 



COMMENTS ON ECONOMICS 2J 

At the present time we have no control over international 
economic life, and we are forced by circumstances to 
confine ourselves to the sphere in which we can take 
effective action that is, to our own country. In our 
view, unemployment, whatever the cause, can then only 
be dealt with if the nation secures local and national 
control of the problem and takes appropriate action. 
We shall not thereby prejudice any international action 
which may become possible in the future. 

Further it is often stated that the country cannot raise 
the standard of life of our people save by the development 
of overseas trade. This theory is difficult to accept. 
We maintain on the contrary that the standard of living 
can be raised by directing our national policy to utilising 
those who would otherwise be unemployed in the creation 
in our own country of the houses, food and such other 
specific things as are needed to enrich the people. 

A popular view to-day is that we have to enlarge our 
farms and factories and so obtain large-scale production. 
It should be realised that with certain exceptions it is 
quite easy to produce all that we need from large or 
small farms and factories. Both the large and small 
units have their social and economic value and may well 
go on side by side, as they do to-day in this country. 
We have not therefore to consider whether large or 
small farms or factories result in the largest production 
per unit of labour, but should devote our attention 
to building up such units of production, large or small, 
as suit the temperament of our people and lead both to 
the creation of the material wealth needed and to the 
happiness of the workers. 



28 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

It is a common opinion, constantly put forward by 
politicians, that we should concentrate our energy on 
"stimulating trade" both at home and abroad. The 
alternative view is that whilst all, or almost all, forms 
of trade benefit traders and financiers, the effect of trade 
on the life of a nation is either constructive or destructive, 
creating according to its character wealth and employment 
or poverty and unemployment. We should then consider 
each branch of trade on its merits, foster that which is 
constructive and put an end to that which is destructive. 

The popular economic theories caused us in the past 
to place emphasis on "cheapness": the maintaining of 
economic price-levels is beginning to be recognised as 
of primary importance. 

A phrase that appears constantly in the Press and 
propaganda to-day states that "the object of production 
is consumption." Quite apart from the point that the 
word "consumption" creates intellectual confusion (for 
whilst we produce food for consumption, we produce 
houses to live in and clothes to wear, and health to be 
enjoyed), the phrase implies an undue limitation. The 
object of productive work is not merely consumption, it 
is twofold: the creation of a good life amongst the 
producers, as well as the goods that are needed. 

Orthodox economists of the traditional school still 
tend in their thinking towards laissez faire, the 
modern or realistic school towards " Functionalism," the 
art of organisation for the essential purpose. Finally, 
orthodox economists have taught in the past, and the 
idea is still widely held, that the test of the value of 
any particular economic plan depends og.Jts financial 



COMMENTS ON ECONOMICS 29 

advantage. The realists would say on the "wealth/' 
material and spiritual, created and distributed. 

The policy defined in this book appears to us to be 
based on what may be called the realistic outlook. We 
suggest indeed that the policy outlined is the natural 
outcome of studying problems historically and economics 
realistically, just as the books that come to different con- 
clusions l are the outcome of studying problems solely as 
they are to-day and interpreting them in the light of 
orthodox economic theories. 

It is true that in recent years the orthodox economic 
theories have been modified by leading authorities, whilst 
many of the more intelligent economists have devoted 
themselves to research work of inestimable value and 
have left theories alone. Nevertheless the traditional 
economic theories still continue to form the basis of 
books and propaganda, and to a considerable extent of 
Government policy. They will also continue to be 
taught. But they will cease to be believed: for the 
underlying dogma, the belief in the struggle, a relic of 
barbarism, will be replaced by a belief that the building 
up of our civilisation depends not on the struggle but 
on the reconciling of conflicting interests, and of co- 
operative rather than competitive action. Indeed realistic 
economic ideas are being rapidly assimilated by the 
younger politicians and other thinkers, and even 
incorporated into practical proposals. 

1 See, for example^ The Agricultural Dilemma, the report of the 
inquiry organised by Lord Astor and Mr B. Seebohm Rowntree; 
and Mr Menzies Kitchin's Report on Land Settlement, issued by the 
Carnegie Trust. 



CHAPTER III 
THE CASE FOR RURAL REVIVAL 

THROUGHOUT the century that lay between the Napoleonic 
Wars and the Great War of 1914 to 191 8, our leaders of 
thought and action, obsessed by the spectacular develop- 
ment of finance, industry and overseas trade, lost sight 
of the importance of rural life to racial growth and of 
agriculture to economic progress. 

During almost the whole of that time, national policy 
was, consciously or unconsciously, anti-rural: the result 
became manifest in widespread unemployment amongst 
agricultural workers followed by a steady drift from the 
countryside to the great cities, creating first over-crowding 
and slums and thereafter accentuating the evils of poverty 
and unemployment in the industrial areas. For un- 
employment, born in the villages, grew up in the 
towns. 

It is events such as these that cause the decay of nations. 

Two great catastrophes, war and the economic crisis, 
have shaken our national complacency and somewhat 
changed our outlook on all social and economic problems. 
As a result, though there is an enormous amount of 
excited talk that confuses the public mind, we are 
beginning to think more profoundly and more carefully 
on agricultural problems than ever before: indeed many 
people are saying that our anti-rural policy has been our 

30 



THE CASE FOR RURAL REVIVAL 3! 

chief mistake of the past and that the revival of agriculture l 
is our best hope for the future. 

Nevertheless, even to-day, few of our leaders appear 
to realise how large a part of the national difficulties that 
marked these recent catastrophes arises from the 
decadence of agriculture and rural life. The nation 
has to realise clearly that the under-development of 
agriculture has been responsible for a large part of the 
unemployment, and is a main cause of national im- 
poverishment; undoubtedly, if an economic policy 
directed to agricultural revival had been adopted in 
time, we should have avoided the worst features of the 
economic crisis. Moreover it should be borne in mind 
that the recent revival in overseas trade and of the 
employment in industry that went with it, must soon 
reach its limit of expansion, even if it has not already 
done so; and we must then turn to the development 
of our own country, in which development agriculture, 
afforestation and horticulture are of primary importance. 

Since the importance of rural life to the nation is still 
insufficiently understood, something may well be said 
on the general case for rural revival. 

A prosperous agriculture, for which this country is 
so well adapted, is as essential in times of prosperity 
as in periods of adversity. In the economic sphere, it 
creates in the food produced, and such other products 

1 It may be noted here that the emphasis so often laid by writers 
on food production has caused many people to overlook the fact that 
agriculture is concerned with products other than food and drink: 
wool, hides and sheep skins, for example; horticulture has also in 
recent years become an important industry. See Appendix, note 2. 



32 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

as hides and wool, material wealth for the nation, and 
provides the best natural permanent market for the 
output of the industrial areas. It would go far to secure 
a properly balanced economic life, which could be 
accompanied by the gradual reduction within our 
national boundaries of hours of labour, and the raising 
of rates of wages. By enriching the nation it not only 
spreads and thus reduces the burden of taxation, but 
also goes far to provide the margin of weakh needed 
for a proper development of the social services that deal 
with health, knowledge and happiness. 

Moreover, although the main case for agricultural 
revival belongs to the future of our national life, immediate 
large scale development of agriculture would help us to 
deal with our immediate problems. It would give 
employment to workers of all classes in the reclamation 
of the large areas that need to be brought under culti- 
vation, 1 the erection of farmhouses, farm buildings and 
cottages, carrying out drainage and irrigation, developing 
electric supply and the provision of agricultural machinery 
and the other equipment needed for revival. It would 
thus at once absorb a large section of the unemployed 
in services that lead to the enrichment of the nation and 
save the heavy costs of their unemployment. Thereafter 
it would make it possible to withdraw into rural areas 
and devote to agricultural production such part of the 

1 See The Land., Now and To-morrow > by Professor R. G. Stapledon, 
C.B.E., M. A Professor of Agricultural Botany^ University College of 
Wales, where an examination of the problem of reclaiming land 
will be found. He takes the view that there are "vast acreages of 
land to be reclaimed." 



THE CASE FOR RURAL REVIVAL 33 

surplus town population as has a rural outlook: un- 
doubtedly this is a very large part, for the Englishman 
is by temperament a land cultivator. Moreover, agri- 
cultural production has a special advantage, sometimes 
overlooked, in that in many cases it secures a quick 
return for investment. 

These advantages are in the main economic. Never- 
theless prosperity for agriculture is not advocated merely 
as a means of getting us out of our present economic 
difficulties, though undoubtedly it will go a long way 
to do so. It is a problem of the future of our race, the 
creating of a healthy form of civilisation. For a rural 
population, whether it be grouped in villages, in the 
present country towns or in new towns in agricultural 
areas, 1 is of fundamental importance to a sane form of 
civilisation. Country people, if living in prosperity, are 
far more sturdy, healthy and happy than the dwellers 
in overcrowded cities and industrial areas. Moreover, the 
countryman, if a slow thinker and without intellectual 
brilliance, has, as a rule, a profounder understanding 
than the townsman and thus a more balanced outlook 
on life; he is substantially immune from the influence 
of the stunts, slogans and illusions that poison the 
thought of the day. His daily work involves initiative, 
responsibility and constructive action, and encourages 
constructive thinking, the absence of which is so 
conspicuous a defect of our civilisation. Town life 

1 It is insufficiently realised that under modern conditions it is not 
always necessary for farm workers to live on the land. A very large 
number could live in country towns and go out to work and so have 
the advantage of the social life of the town. 

3 



34 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

undoubtedly offers greater resources for recreation and 
education than the countryside to-day; nevertheless, if 
agriculture were placed on a sound economic basis, 
the position would be reversed. When prosperity 
returns to the countryside, the countryman will produce 
a deeper culture, even if it be less varied, and the recrea- 
tional opportunities of the country, with its open-air 
pursuits, are peculiarly rich. Moreover, the develop- 
ment of the life of the countryside, with its close contact 
with the ever-evolving life of nature, will tend to cure 
the evil of spiritual impoverishment from which the 
nation as a whole now suffers. Civilisation is no doubt 
born in the towns, but common sense, the quality that 
our civilisation obviously needs, especially in times of 
national difficulty and danger, is the typical characteristic 
of the countryman. 

Moreover, and the point is of great importance to our 
national life, home production will provide us with an 
ample supply of fresh and wholesome food. There can 
be no doubt that much of the food consumed to-day by 
the poorer classes is of low quality and has grave effects 
on the nation's standard of health. It is only by the 
development of home production that we can obtain 
the fresh food needed for health. Such production will 
interlock with proposals l for raising the standard of 
health of the people by increasing the consumption of 
fresh food. 

Rural revival with its immense economic and socio- 

1 Such proposals are under the consideration of the Government 
at the time of writing, April 1936. 



THE CASE FOR RURAL REVIVAL 35 

logical advantages is then of great importance to the 
nati&n, and indicates the most promising way of escape 
from our national economic dislocation and our spiritual 
degradation. It is indeed an essential factor in any 
policy of national reconstruction. 

It will now we hope be admitted that a rural revival 
is desirable from every point of view, and we may now 
consider the possibilities of increased production. 

At the present time the value of our agricultural 
output is about 248,000,000 x a year at wholesale prices, 
whilst the imports of food and other agricultural pro- 
ducts appear to be about 378,000,000 2 a year, of 
which about three-quarters is of the character that is 
produced in this country. 3 The balance consists of 
tropical products, such as tea, coffee and certain fruits, 
rice and maize, with which may be grouped wine 
and such fruits and vegetables as may with advantage 
come into this country at times of year when they cannot 
be produced here. Prices are not an exact measure of 
quantities, but the proportion of the food consumed that 
is produced at home is clearly somewhere between 35 
and 40 per cent, of our total national consumption. 
Home production occupies the energies of about 1,150,000 
workers of all classes, which, if we include wives and 
families, means that about 7 per cent, of our population 
is directly concerned in agriculture, 4 whilst the European 
average, outside Russia, is between 30 and 40 per cent. 

Our capacity for food production is still little under- 

1 Based on the Ministry of Agriculture's figures. 

2 Tobacco excluded. 8 See Appendix, note 3. 4 See App. 5 note 4. 



36 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

stood by the public, since politicians, certain economists 
of the orthodox school, the Press, and also the teachers in 
the elementary and secondary schools, have been telling 
us for the last half-century that Britain is esseq|ially an 
industrial country, quite unsuited to produce more than 
a small proportion of its own food supplies. Even as late 
as 1930 The Economist ,* which has the reputation of being 
the most accurate paper in the world on problems of 
economics and related statistics, supported a statement 
made by Lord (then Sir Edward) Iliffe, 2 that "we can 
only produce sufficient food to feed one-third of our 
population," and supplemented it by a further explanation 
that our economic life depended on our being able to 
export manufactured goods to provide our food supplies. 
Since that date statements have been made over the 
wireless, in the Press and elsewhere, to the effect that we 
can produce only a portion of oilr food supplies, the 
proportion varying, it appears, according to the speaker 
or writer, from 22^ per cent, to 50 per cent. 

On the other hand, during the last twenty years 
agricultural experts have been issuing figures (without 
producing any effect on the public mind) which suggest 
that we could produce, if it were considered desirable to 
do so in the national interest, 75 per cent., 3 80 per cent., 4 

1 See The Economist, ipth and 26th July 1930. 

2 Lord IHffej C.B.E newspaper proprietor, Past President of the 
Association of British Chambers of Commerce. 

8 See The Report of the Policy Committee of the Central Chamber of 
Agriculture^ 1930. 

4 See The Report of Lord Selborne's Sub-Committee issued by the 
Ministry of Reconstruction. Cd. 9079. 1918. 



THE CASE FOR RURAL REVIVAL 37 

and 90 per cent. 1 of our current requirements. Even 
these figures may to-day be treated as underestimates, for 
in the last ten years scientific knowledge and mechanical 
devices ^have made such strides that there can be little 
reason to doubt that we could feed ourselves, though not 
with exactly the same food as we consume to-day: our 
people might have to eat less wheat bread, beef and 
mutton, and rely instead on other cereals, such as oats and 
rye, and the use of potato flour, on an increased output of 
pork and bacon, and also, with advantage to health, on a 
larger consumption of milk, butter and cheese, fowls 
and eggs, fruit and vegetables, and fish such as 
herrings. 

We have now to consider how far development could 
go to our national advantage, without an undue rise of 
retail prices. 

The actual cost of food production in this country is 
low; the relatively high price of home-grown food arises 
from the cost of distribution and of processing 2 i.e. the 
converting of food products into food which appear to 
absorb on an average about 60 per cent, of the retail price. 
If internal distribution were organised throughout this cost 
could be reduced to perhaps 40 per cent, of the retail price 
on an average; wholesale prices could then be raised to a 

1 See Food, by Sir Charles Fielding, K.B.E., Director General of 
Food Production during the War, and other writings by the same 
author. Agriculture after the War> by Sir Daniel Hall, and Land, 
Now and To-morrow> by Professor Stapledon, may also be consulted. 

2 The converting of agricultural products into food or other 
articles has come to be called "processing," a somewhat unsatisfactory 
title that we retain for want of a better. 



38 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

figure which would not only make production on a greatly 
increased scale profitable, but would be ample to provide 
a high standard of wages to labourers. 1 It is also im- 
portant to realise that if food which we are qualified to 
produce at home is imported, we have not only to pay the 
price, but are also involved in the direct and indirect 
losses that arise from keeping land, capital and indi- 
viduals unemployed in this country. 

Moreover, much of the agricultural produce, of the 
character that we could provide ourselves, which comes 
into this country is not paid for by manufactured goods, 
as has often been alleged; it is purchased by the drafts 
which come from the dominions, the Argentine and 
elsewhere, to pay the interest and dividends on our 
investments in those countries. In these cases, no 
employment is given to our industrialists in manufacturing 
goods to be sent in exchange. 2 On the other hand, if the 
food were produced at home it should not be beyond the 
wit of man to secure that its production is reflected in a 
good demand for the output of the towns. Indeed it is 
an important element of success in rural revival that the 
increased wealth of our rural population should be 
expended in this country. 

All these facts should be borne in mind in considering 
the claim put forward that "food is cheap because it 

1 The Report of the Rural Reconstruction Committee referred to 
above suggested that a policy of rural revival should be based on a 
wage of about is. an hour, or 505. a week. 

2 It should, however, be noted that if the interest and dividends 
distributed in this country are spent at home, they may result in 
employment and increase of national wealth. 



THE CASE FOR RURAL REVIVAL 39 

comes from abroad." And in this relation it should 
not* be overlooked that the present low wholesale price 
of imported food arises largely from the fact that much 
of the food imported to-day is sold below the cost of 
production; this is a purely artificial condition that can 
hardly continue indefinitely, and may indeed be followed 
in a few years by other countries discontinuing production 
for our markets. 1 As a result, if we have not by that 
time increased our own production, we may be faced 
with high prices for imported food. 

It should further be recognised that the soil of this 
country is generally good, and where not suitable can 
be improved; whilst a comprehensive system of irrigation 
and drainage would solve many difficulties. It is 
customary to grumble at the weather, but it must be 
realised that our moist and temperate climate gives us 
great advantages over most other countries. Catastrophes, 
such as long continued droughts, long and hard frosts 
of the character which occur in other countries, are 
unknown in Britain; neither do we have dust storms 
such as occur elsewhere, which may in some cases blow 
away the fertile soil and in other cases destroy crops over 
large areas; the water shortages that sometimes arise 
require a system of irrigation, the occasional floods need 
an efficient drainage system, whilst the difficulties of wet 
weather at the time of hay and corn harvests from which 
we sometimes suffer can now be dealt with by appropriate 

1 Such a situation will certainly arise should countries cease to base 
their economic policy on exporting food to this country and devote 
themselves to national development. 



40 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

equipment that will convert grass into hay and dry and 
thresh grain crops in almost any weather. Moreover, 
whilst there are many things such as maize, rice, tea, 
coffee, and fruits that we shall always wish to import, 
the variations of climate and soil make it possible to 
produce all or almost all the various forms of food that 
are suited to a temperate climate. 

Further, as to the calibre of our agriculturists. It has 
been customary in the past to depreciate the British 
farmer; it was indeed at one time part of the case against 
the revival of agriculture. But to-day there is no possible 
excuse for this attitude. There are still a number of 
inefficient cultivators, but undoubtedly our leading 
farmers are men of exceptional energy and ability and 
have for generations been leaders in the agriculture of 
the world. Moreover the rank and file have an energy 
and an adaptability to circumstances, which is shown 
in their rapid changes from one branch of cultivation 
to another, a feature almost unknown in other parts 
of the world. There are also large numbers of agri- 
culturists, recent immigrants to the towns, who would 
be willing to return to the countryside if conditions were 
made attractive; whilst recent developments in the use 
of allotments amongst unemployed miners and other 
workers show, as has been already pointed out, that there 
is still great inherent capacity for land cultivation amongst 
our industrial population. Although much remains to 
be done, we have established in this country invaluable 
arrangements for scientific research and the spread of 
knowledge of cultivation, of which our more enterprising 



THE CASE FOR RURAL REVIVAL 4! 

V 

farmers take every advantage. 1 We have also admirable 
breeding stock and seed supplies. Finally, the cultivable 
area of Britain is sufficient for our purpose. 

We may therefore conclude that this country is 
peculiarly suited to produce at moderate prices the 
greater part and probably the whole of its essential food 
requirements. 2 How then exactly are we to develop 
production ? "There are three ways/' said Sir John 
Russell, 3 "of increasing the food supply of this country: 
(i) By increasing the area under cultivation; (2) by 
increasing the production of individual crops and output 
per acre; and (3) by combining crops into better and 
more productive systems." We have to use all these 
ways of increasing production. 

To sum up : we suggest that, if distribution and the 
converting of food products into food were organised 
effectively, we could at least double our output without 
either increasing the cost of production 4 or raising retail 
prices; we could increase concurrently our agricultural 
population, with advantage to the nation, from the present 
figure of about 7 per cent., so that with the closely related 
industries it might absorb 14, and perhaps, ultimately 
20 per cent, of our population. 

1 It would, however, greatly assist the revival of agriculture if the 
results of research were more rapidly spread by increase in the number 
of model farms and allotments so that they might extend to every 
parish or rural district. Cultivators could then follow by observation 
what is being done in research and so rapidly assimilate the results. 

2 See Appendix, note 5. 

3 Sir John Russell, D.Sc., F.R.S., Director of the Rothamsted 
Experimental Station. 

4 See Appendix, note 6. 



42 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

And here it may be noted that such revival will have 
far-reaching effects. On the one hand it should give 
employment to many industries that provide the require- 
ments of agriculturists, such as manufacturers of fertilisers 
and feeding stuffs, and also the makers of tools, machinery 
and other equipment. It would also give work to builders, 
blacksmiths and other local craftsmen, and to the firms 
and individuals who undertake transportation. The 
converting of the food and other products into the article 
finished for consumption means increased employment 
in bacon factories, mills, tanneries and so forth. Pros- 
perity for agriculture also creates a demand for everything 
that a community with money to spend may need. It is 
quite possible that by the development of agriculture 
we shall give as much additional employment in other 
occupations as will be provided on the land. 

We have also to consider the problem of our food 
supplies in case of war. It was difficult enough to secure 
such supplies in the last war; it will be far more difficult 
if another war were to break out, when the ships bringing 
these supplies would be exposed to a devastating attack 
from both aeroplanes and submarines. There is a real 
danger of defeat in war through the cutting off of food 
supplies. "It is useless," said Dr Cloudesley Brereton, 1 
addressing in 1935 a meeting of the Rural Reconstruction 
Association, "to be armed to the teeth if our molars have 
nothing to chew." Even if we are not yet prepared for a 
comprehensive policy of agricultural development, the 

1 Dr Cloudesley Brereton, M.A. Cantab.; L. es L. Paris; D. fcs 
L. Lille; Member of Council, Rural Reconstruction Association. 



THE CASE FOR RURAL REVIVAL 43 

least we can do is to erect national granaries for the 
storage of wheat: we ought to have at least six months' 
wheat in hand and also at once to develop our agriculture 
and plan it in such a way that the output can be rapidly 
increased in case of war. 

Something more can here be said on the relation of 
agriculture to the problem of unemployment, 1 though it 
would not, of course, be possible to deal with the whole 
problem from the realistic standpoint taken in this book 
and indicate a solution. Since unemployment came first 
from the countryside, one might naturally look to the 
country to provide a cure; nevertheless no claim is made 
that the revival of agriculture will provide such a cure. 
It is, however, suggested that this problem of unemploy- 
ment cannot be dealt with effectively without a large-scale 
development of agriculture, which should, as has already 
been said, at least double both production and the number 
of workers engaged on the land and in closely related 
industries. Indeed, if agriculturists are given security in 
their markets and prices, and supported by funds for 
development, it is not unreasonable to ask that they should 
give support to an agricultural policy which will absorb 
the unemployed into agriculture by Land Settlement 
and increased employment as farmers and labourers. 

1 No comprehensive figures on unemployment are available. 
Such as are provided go to show that the number of workers of all 
classes not in constant employment during the year 1935 was between 
7,000,000 and 8,000,000. The daily average of individuals of all 
classes unemployed in that year was probably about 2,500,000, of 
whom about 2,000,000 drew Unemployment Benefit. Possibly half 
of that 2,500,000 rightly belong to and should be absorbed into 
agriculture and closely related industries. See Appendix, note 4. 



44 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

Responsibility for accepting this condition of national 
support and the carrying out of this policy should, it is 
suggested, be vested in the Agricultural Federation 
suggested below. It is fortunate that, if a policy of 
revival of agriculture is adopted by the nation, there will 
be for many years plenty of work to be done in reclamation 
of land, in erecting buildings, in providing preliminary 
equipment and so forth. 

There has been much discussion in recent years on the 
value of Land Settlement on smallholdings, and also of 
allotments, for the unemployed. Something has been 
done in providing settlements and much in providing 
allotments. Whilst we are naturally sympathetic to every 
proposal for settling the unemployed on the land, it has 
to be recognised that large-scale Land Settlement can be 
carried on only if there is a comprehensive scheme for 
providing a home market for the surplus output of the 
settlers. Until this is secured caution is desirable. 
Urban allotments, 1 on the other hand, should continue 
to be provided wherever possible : they give the cultivator 
a healthy occupation and a supply of fresh and wholesome 
food. They also serve to train him in the cultivation of 
the land, thus providing him with a knowledge that will 
be invaluable if a comprehensive scheme for agricultural 
revival is adopted. 

Before proceeding further it is well to realise the 
nature of the interests that might be adversely affected 
by the revival of agriculture. First there are the firms 

1 It may be here noted that in the countryside it is large gardens 
that are needed rather than allotments. 



THE CASE FOR RURAL REVIVAL 45 

engaged in producing and dealing with goods for export, 
who are naturally suspicious of any increase of home 
production which may involve the reduction of the 
imports of food through which they expect payment for 
their exports: they have to be convinced not only that 
this export trade is bound sooner or later to dwindle, 
but that revival of agriculture will create a substituted 
and far more secure market. Next there are the shipping 
interests concerned in bringing food from other countries. 
The reduction of overseas trade and the extension of the 
shipping industries, often subsidised, in other countries 
has damaged the British industry to an extent that is 
little realised by the nation. Reorganisation of the 
industry so that it may accord with modern requirements 
is urgently needed, and when that reorganisation takes 
place it is to be hoped that the need in the national 
interests for reducing food imports will receive due 
consideration. 1 Finally come the financial interests, 
British and foreign, concerned in food production in 
other countries, and especially in collecting the interest 
and dividends on their investments abroad by the 
importation and sale in this country of agricultural 
produce that we might, to the nation's advantage, provide 
at home. It is thought that such produce to the value of 
about 120,000,000 a year is imported for this purpose. 2 

Moreover, at the present time, our dominions and 
certain foreign countries appear to think that they 
have a prescriptive right to dump surplus food products 
on the British market. 

1 See Appendix, note 7. 2 See Appendix, note 8. 



46 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

The position of these varied interests, powerful both 
in the political and financial worlds, is strengthened by 
many trade agreements with the dominions and 
foreign countries which directly or indirectly involve 
^the importation of food into this country. It is clear, 
that so long as our national policy is based on securing 
the larger part of our food products from abroad, we 
can hardly expect to develop home production and 
employment in agriculture on a large scale. 

Nevertheless we have to face the situation. Our view 
is that in laying down national policy the well-being of 
our own people should come first, and that to secure 
this the British farmer should have the first claim on 
the home market, within the limits of a fair price : im- 
ports, especially those that come for purely financial 
reasons, should be limited so far as possible to raw 
materials and to such food and goods of other categories 
as we are not suited to produce ourselves. And here 
it should be realised that if we pursue a national policy 
on the lines indicated in this book, with a view to 
enrich the nation, we may expect an increase in purchases 
from abroad of articles that we cannot produce at home, 
whilst an enriched nation would have some increased 
funds available for world travel. Thus the shipping and 
overseas trading interests would benefit. 



PART TWO 
A NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL POLICY 



CHAPTER IV 
SOME GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS 

WE have so far discussed the case for rural and agri- 
cultural revival as an essential part of a general policy of 
national reconstruction; we have now to deal with the 
specific action that is recommended first to secure this 
revival, and thereafter to maintain agriculture on a 
permanent foundation, unaffected by trade depressions 
and economic crises. But before going further it may 
be useful to say something on the way in which the 
problem should be approached. 

It is well to realise that our specific problem is not 
only unique in the world of to-day, but has never arisen 
in its exact form in any other civilisation. 1 It should 
therefore be submitted, in common with all other funda- 
mental social and economic problems, to a comprehensive 
investigation by the best brains of the country, who 
should be concerned to ascertain the material facts, 
and to suggest solutions. This method of approach 
has been employed in dealing with many important 
political questions, as for example in the last century 
when forms of local government were fully considered 
before County and Rural District Councils were created. 

1 Our problem has, however, something in common with the 
conditions that arose in Imperial Rome and in other empires of the 
past. See Paterson's Nemesis of Nations. 

49 4 



50 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

It is as important to create a constitution for agriculture 
as it was for the counties. Investigations, in the past, 
have been entrusted to special Commissioners or Depart- 
mental Committees and a special technique and method of 
inquiry has been built up : these methods, it is suggested, 
are not suited to the study of social and economic 
problems, which may have to be approached in a some- 
what different way. 

Pending such inquiry we can proceed to consider the 
action to be taken to secure a revival, in the light of such 
investigations as have been already made : on this a general 
comment may be made. 

For nearly a century home consumption has been 
regarded as an open market in which home and foreign 
producers could scramble, and everything has been left 
to haphazard enterprise. The view here put forward is 
that home production, foreign imports and distribution 
should be planned to meet the actual needs of the com- 
munity, and that the country should be regarded as an 
economic unit, with needs and assets balanced against one 
another. Uncontrolled competition with its wastefulness 
and harmful effects on character should give place to 
co-operation. With this in mind we may now turn to a 
more detailed consideration of the problem. 

Since Free Trade leaves prices and the balance between 
supply and demand to chance, it must fail in the future 
as it has in the past to maintain prices or keep the balance 
steady. The alternative of Protection in the form of import 
duties is still supported by some politicians, but whatever 
its value in other directions, import duties give no security 



SOME GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS 5! 

in prices to the producer a basic necessity and may 
result in unduly high prices to the consumer. Moreover 
the effect of such duties may at any time be undermined 
by the alteration of the relative money values in the two 
trading countries, by the introduction of exporting sub- 
sidies, or by other steps taken by an exporting country or 
its traders anxious to send their surplus products to this 
country, even at prices that fall far below the home price 
and even below the cost of production. 1 

We can therefore rule out Free Trade and Protection by 
import duties, and proceed to consider what other steps 
can be taken to secure success. We are forced to turn to 
what has come to be called planning. Now planning, 
though commended by many distinguished authorities, is 
somewhat suspect. This is not surprising for, in recent 
years, planning has tended to become something of an 
intellectual amusement; many brilliant thinkers all over 
the world have been making and promulgating "plans of 
recovery. 5 ' Sometimes governments accept these plans 
and make experiments on the body corporate : the results 
are rarely successful and often lead to new disasters. 
Before accepting planning as a principle we shall then be 
well advised to consider why so many plans fail and what 
we must do to devise plans that will lead to success. It 
is suggested that the want of success of so many of these 
plans arises from a series of causes. One observes a want 

1 For example, French milled flour has been sold in this country 
at 95. 6d. per sack of 280 Ibs., whilst the price in France was at or over 
56s.; Italian flour at ys. 3d., whilst the price in Italy was about 553. 
See a Report issued by the National Association of British and Irish 
Millers in 1935. 



52 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

of exhaustive preliminary inquiry, haste in preparation, 
and failure to found the plans on those basic principles 
that govern the social and economic life of civilisations. 
Then there is the want of a clearly defined objective. 
Moreover when plans based on correct information, 
sound in principle, and with a clear objective have been 
prepared, they are liable to break down in application if no 
appropriate organisation has been thought out and built 
up. The plans put forward in this book have this much 
in their favour: they have been prepared at leisure and 
with exhaustive examination of the facts, the underlying 
principles have been thought out, the objective has been 
analysed, and the appropriate form of organisation has 
been designed. 

Something more may be said on the objects of these 
^proposals, for a clear objective is fundamental to success, 
without it sound planning is almost impossible : with it 
we can test every detail of our proposals in relation to our 
objects and modify the plans when necessary. 

Our objective may be stated from various points of 
view. 

From the outlook of the nation as a whole we aim for 
agriculture, as indeed for all branches of economic life, 
not only at an increase of our national wealth, 1 but also 
at a more equitable distribution of this wealth and of the 
twin assets of work and leisure. We believe that one of 
the necessary means to those ends is the absorption of as 

1 " Wealth/' it will be remembered, has been classified above under 
seven categories: houses, food, clothing, lighting and heating, 
health, knowledge, and happiness. 



SOME GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS 53 

large a proportion of our population as is reasonably 
possible into agriculture and thus, by providing a home 
market for industry, to help to create a balanced 
economic unit. We wish also ultimately to make every- 
body so well off that they may be freed from constant 
anxieties and have a surplus available for the pleasures of 
life, and be able to contribute, without its being an 
oppressive burden, a fair share of national and local 
taxation. 

With this as our national objective, we may take next 
our specific aims as they affect the productive workers. 
We have to provide our farmers with a sufficient measure 
of security in their markets to enable them steadily to 
develop the production of food and the other output of 
the land, such as wool, hides, skins and flowers. This 
will not be attained unless the farmers' energies are 
devoted to producing, year by year, the Actual com- 
modities required for consumption; for if this is not 
done there may be surpluses of one product wasted 
whilst there may be shortages of another. One of our* 
objects must therefore be to direct production to what] 
is needed by the nation. The policy of quotas may here 
be used. There is another point of importance relating 
to the position of the farmers : we are constantly told 
that farmers need further credit, and in a sense this is 
true, for they certainly need further funds for carrying 
on and developing production. But farmers cannot 
go on borrowing indefinitely: their liabilities have to 
be reduced to reasonable proportions. Moreover the 
interests of the labourers must not be overlooked: indeed 



54 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

not only farmers but all workers on the land should be 
working under conditions that create material wealth and 
also health and happiness. They should secure a 
reasonable reward for their special intelligence and 
enterprise, and become large-scale purchasers of the 
products of industry. 

In considering the position of farmers and labourers 
we have also to realise the need to preserve and to develop 
the producers' natural constructive instinct, for farming 
must be carried out in a spirit of creativeness and 
enterprise. 

We have next to consider the position of the consumer. 
"Producers" and "consumers" cannot be classed as 
clearly defined sections of society with conflicting* 
interests. Nevertheless there are different interests 
which have to be reconciled; this means in practice 
that we have to supply the food and other things 
that agriculture creates at prices that are fair to the 
consumer. 

Finally, there is a third class to be considered the 
men and women, consumers of course, but primarily 
engaged in distribution and processing. Their economic 
life has also to be organised so that they have a fair 
measure of security which will enable them to live in 
comfort, health and happiness. 

The policy outlined in this book is directed towards 
the ultimate attainment of these objectives : if and where 
it does not fit in with the objectives, it is not suggested 
that we should modify the objectives: we have, on the 
contrary, to adjust the details of the policy to our aims. 



SOME GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS 55 

We can now outline our proposals, to be dealt with 
hereafter in greater detail. 

The main essential for success is, we suggest, to relieve 
Parliament of its present concern in the details of 
agricultural affairs and so to take the detailed problems 
out of the political arena. Our central proposal is then 
to place all that relates to the actual production of our 
food supplies in the hands of those directly concerned 
in agriculture: to create a National Federation of the 
agricultural interests. We shall thus attain two important 
results. Agriculturists will become definitely responsible 
for the building up of their own industry, and a responsible 
organisation will be created with which the nation can 
deal in all matters relating to food production. 

In close connection with this main organisation 
concerned with production, we have to organise dis- 
tribution and the conversion of food products into food. 
Then, to exercise a central controlling influence over 
production, distribution and processing, and con- 
currently to protect the consumers' interests, we ought 
to create a specific organisation, a National Food Council, 
which will stand for national interests. 

The other items in the policy are, in the main, economic. 
And here it is well to make clear the guiding principle 
that governs all our suggestions. Whatever the problem, 
we endeavour to face it squarely and apply a direct 
rather than an indirect remedy. For example in dealing 
with the problem of prices we recommend the specific 
fixing of prices rather than reliance on regulating supply 
and demand or on import duties or quotas negotiated 



56 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

through political channels. It is here that our proposals 
differ from those generally advanced by politicians and 
economists of the more orthodox schools. 

We can now turn to our specific suggestions for dealing 
with the problems that are mainly economic. In our 
view we have : 

(1) To get rid of the uncertainty of, and the consequent 
gamble in, prices (the most conspicuous evil of agriculture 
in modern times) by substituting, so far as possible, the 
system of standard, for fluctuating, prices. This involves 
the development of the grading of produce, a matter of 
great importance. 

(2) To organise scientifically both distribution and 
the conversion of food products into food, so that the 
persons engaged in these processes may have security 
in their work and there may be no waste. 

(3) To regulate imports in such a way that the British 
farmer secures the first claim on the home markets at a 
fair price and that only the balance of our needs is secured 
from abroad. 

(4) To exercise where necessary some measure of 
direct control over home production and provide for the 
use of surpluses, in order to protect ourselves from gluts 
and shortages and maintain as far as possible a balance 
between supply and demand; and 

(5) To deal with farmers' finance so that they may 
have funds available for their work. 

These five proposals interlock; none can work efficiently 
without the others. Moreover, though we may have to 
proceed by taking first one branch of agriculture and 



SOME GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS 57 

then another, the steps should only be taken as part of a 
comprehensive policy. We shall not attain complete 
success until we have applied the polity to agriculture 
as a whole; for when we safeguard one branch of 
agriculture and leave others alone, our farmers, who 
seem to be the most versatile in the world, naturally 
turn to that particular branch of production that is 
safeguarded and we find ourselves faced with surpluses 
that we cannot absorb. 

If it were possible to take first things first we should 
start our plans with the organisation of a National 
Federation of Agriculture and a National Food Council. 
But as that proposal is only just emerging into practical 
politics, and is not yet properly understood, govern- 
ments are likely to continue their present work of dealing 
with those particular urgent problems that are largely 
economic. We are therefore considering these questions 
first, beginning with the central economic need of 
securing a guaranteed standard economic price as between 
producer and consumer, which realistic economists have 
from very early times considered the central requirement 
of a sound economic life. 

It is clear that a policy of agricultural revival involves 
consideration of many questions such as land tenure 
and finance not dealt with or only touched on in this 
book. It is submitted that neither the general line of 
argument nor the case for the policy as a whole depends 
on the views taken on these subsidiary questions. Our 
proposals are independent of them. 

In any case these problems cannot be discussed here. 



58 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

Nevertheless something may be said on the question of 
land tenure, the importance of dealing with which is 
emphasised by many authorities on the subject. It 
should be noted that almost all cultivators in Britain 
hold land on one of three tenures : (i) as rent-paying 
tenants of land controlled and generally owned, either 
directly by the State or by local authorities representing 
the State; (2) as rent-paying tenants of land privately 
owned; (3) as occupying owners who as a rule hold 
subject to mortgages. All these tenures have their 
advantages and also their advocates. The policy here 
put forward is obviously applicable whatever the tenure 
under which the land is held by the cultivator. 

Many landlords have made considerable sacrifices 
in helping farmers to tide over the agricultural depres- 
sions, and it would be right and proper if they benefited 
to some extent in the revival. Nevertheless provision 
may have to be made in any policy for the revival of 
agriculture to secure that rents are not unduly raised if 
prosperity returns to the cultivator; the main benefit 
of the revival should go to producers and consumers. 



CHAPTER V 
STANDARD PRICES 

IT will perhaps help our readers in their consideration 
of standard prices if we explain that the Standard Price 
System is an economic system under which prices are 
fixed at a remunerative level by an independent authority 
representing the producers, consumers and the nation, 
and concerned to reconcile their interests. 1 The price 
so fixed is called the Standard Price, or more fully the 
Guaranteed Standard Economic Price. 

The most striking evil from which agriculture has 
suffered since the beginning of the last century has been 
the constant fluctuation and uncertainty of prices. Until 
the system of stabilising prices was reintroduced, first 
for sugar beet in 1924 and then under the recent Agri- 
cultural Marketing Acts, wholesale prices of almost 
every commodity have varied continuously not only 
year by year, but also every day and indeed every hour 
and in every market. These variations have often been 
very large (wheat in the nineteenth century varied between 
about iys. 6d. and i6os. a quarter), but even small 
variations have been sufficient to create a loss or a profit 
to the farmer on a specific deal. Thus farming became 
a gamble in prices. The evil is one that affects not only 
the farmer : if prices are low they may destroy his profit 

1 See Appendix, note 9. 
59 



60 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

and they may even fall below the cost of production, 
and so react on wages ; but if high they rob the consumer. 
In either case our economic life is dislocated. This is 
the specific evil that we have to combat by returning to 
the standard price system. 

For the last half century there has been a widespread 
movement for the introduction of fixed prices. During 
the Great War price fixing was widely adopted : in part 
as an outcome of the special circumstances of the time. 
Nevertheless the practice of fixing prices did not end 
with the War either in this or other countries but has 
been continued and developed ever since. Everyone 
is familiar with it, for it has become a commonplace in 
the retail shops, where cigarettes, patent medicines, 
books, breakfast cereals and scores of other articles are 
sold at standard prices. Shopkeepers are accustomed 
to sell at fixed prices and on an agreed commission, 
especially in the case of proprietary articles, and the 
public is accustomed to buy goods at prices fixed by 
manufacturers or other authorities over whom they have 
no control. 

In agriculture itself prices have been fixed year by year 
for sugar beet since 1924, and under the provisions of the 
Agricultural Marketing Acts the standard price system 
was adopted for hops, and a basic price of 9 a hundred- 
weight was fixed in 1934 for five years. Under the same 
Acts prices are fixed for short periods for bacon and milk 
and under the Wheat Act of 1932 a price is fixed for 
home-grown wheat. But in these three cases the prices 
have constantly been re-adjusted. Such re-adjustment 



STANDARD PRICES 6l 

is no doubt necessary during an experimental period. 1 
Price fixing is one of the most widespread of the new 
features of economic life. 

Prices all over the world have been, and are being, 
regulated by governments or marketing boards and 
committees instituted by governments, by co-operators, 
by producers or by trusts, federations, or special com- 
mittees representing producers or importers, and also by 
agreement amongst members of a trade operating maybe 
only in a town or district. In rare cases they may be 
settled by purchasers. 2 There are indeed many methods 
of regulation, almost all of which are experimental and 
incomplete. In perhaps the greater number of cases the 
prices have been fixed primarily by, or in the interest of, 
producers ; not as they should be, and were in the past, 
with the object of securing a fair price between producer 
and consumer. Moreover, in relatively few cases have 
the fixed prices the quality of permanency. A govern- 
ment may change its policy and withdraw its guarantee. 
A marketing board 3 may fail to work effectively; whilst 

1 In dealing with milk and bacon, difficulties in fixing prices at an 
economic level arose from the fact that there were, in addition to the 
producers and consumers, three other interests to be considered, and 
as far as possible reconciled : the importers, the distributors, and the 
processors: that is, there were five conflicting interests in all to be 
dealt with. It will be necessary to control by appropriate action the 
interests of the distributors, processors and importers, as it is proposed 
by our schemes; the fixing of prices as between producers and 
consumers will then become a fairly simple matter. 

2 In East Anglia prices have been fixed for mustard seed by the 
purchasing firms for many years. 

3 Marketing boards are the authorities constituted under the 
Agricultural Marketing Acts. See Appendix, note I. 



62 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

any of the other forms of organisation may fail to function 
under the stress of home or foreign competition or a 
change of money values. There may then be a return to 
the fluctuating price system with all its evils. If prices 
fall producers will be impoverished and even ruined : in 
any case chaos will be created. Such incidents have been 
the commonplace of the economic life of the world since 
the War. 

Unsuccessful experiments should not prejudice us 
against the principle of price fixing: they teach us how 
not to do it, so that we may learn how it should be done. 
Whatever the result of the experiments, it is becoming 
increasingly clear that if we are to reconstruct our national 
economic life on a secure basis, we must somehow 
maintain food prices at an economic level. 1 Though 
this is admitted by leading authorities of various schools 
of thought, many advocates of stabilising prices continue 
to suggest that prices should be regulated by indirect 
methods: by control through financial arrangements, 
by regulating supply and demand through quotas, control 
of production and otherwise, or by tariffs. Control 
through finance, regulation of supply and demand 2 and 
even tariffs, may have definite value, but they do not 
secure certainty of prices for the producer, though when 

1 Price fixing is also advocated as a means of keeping the internal 
value of money stable by the introduction of what is sometimes called 
"a commodity standard." The point, though important, cannot be 
discussed here. 

2 The Marketing Board dealing with potatoes has attempted to 
maintain a fair level of prices by regulation of supply with only partial 
success. 



STANDARD PRICES 63 

prices are fixed they may help to secure their maintenance. 
The present proposal is to fix, so far as possible, wholesale 
prices in agriculture by direct action and then to buttress 
up the system so created by regulating supply and 
demand, and if need be by the use of tariffs and financial 
adjustments. Ours is a policy of direct action, 

In the particular case of British agriculture, especially 
favourable conditions for a policy of price fixing are 
present. We have producers, consumers, distributors 
and processors within our own boundaries, whilst, so far 
as we depend on imports, they can be regulated efficiently 
by the right methods. We have also our own finance 
system and can adapt it to support a constructive policy 
based on standard prices. The solution of the problem, 
so far as it is economic, is in our own hands. If, therefore, 
we can secure the support of producers, distributors, 
processors and consumers to create the necessary organisa- 
tion there is no reason why we should not, in their common 
interest and in the interests of the nation, fix and maintain 
fair prices for our main agricultural products. 

The first practical step is to deal comprehensively with 
the problem of wholesale agricultural prices, on which 
much has already been done in this country. We are not 
here advocating the stimulation of home production by 
artificially high prices, for unduly high prices are as 
disastrous to our economic life as the present low level of 
wholesale prices; our proposal is to fix, and maintain at 
an economic level so far as is practically possible, the 
wholesale prices paid to farmers and market gardeners for 
their main articles of produce. The prices may have to 



64 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

be changed from time to time; for example, in the case of 
milk * and eggs the prices may have to be varied in 
accordance with the time of year. The country may 
also have to be divided into areas, the price being uniform 
within each area, though not necessarily identical in all 
areas. Local variations may be needed to meet special 
local conditions; but it is hoped that this procedure may 
be only temporary, for uniform national price lists should 
be our ultimate aim. In the case of corn crops, at any 
rate, the price should be fixed for a term of years and 
should be subject to at least four years' notice; in the case 
of other articles of produce price lists might be recon- 
sidered every two or three years, until experience has 
shown what are fair figures : but alterations should not be 
made without ample notice. To secure continuity in our 
agricultural development, we want to eliminate variations 
so far as possible, so that cultivators may have a certain 
price to which they can work. 

The fixing of wholesale prices at a fair level must be our 
immediate object: but subsequently we may find it both 
possible and desirable to regulate retail prices. This 
would greatly benefit the housekeepers of the towns, and 
indeed all housekeepers. Moreover a steady retail price 
helps to steady the demand, a matter which, as will be 
seen later, is of great importance. 2 It may also be found 

1 Milk pool prices under the present marketing schemes, so 
changed from time to time, are different in different areas. In the 
case of bacon pigs and sugar beet the prices, varied from time to 
time, are uniform throughout the country. In the case of hops 
the price is fixed for a term of years. 

2 The variation of demand following the changes in retail prices 



STANDARD PRICES 65 

desirable to introduce a system already common in this 
country, especially in relation to proprietary articles, 
whereby retailers sell on an agreed commission. 

The standard price lists should give the figure for the 
best quality article and other leading grades. In the case 
of corn the experience gathered in dealing with wheat 
suggests that there are few, if any, practical difficulties; in 
other cases, such as fat stock, where character and quality 
in any particular market may vary considerably, the actual 
price paid, though based on a standard price list, could be 
settled by responsible market officials. Farmers, dealers 
and auctioneers who are familiar with market conditions 
suggest that the practical difficulties are not nearly as great 
as theorists suggest. A similar estimate of quality has to 
be made roughly by buyers of produce in the markets 
every day of their lives : what is needed is that it should 
be done systematically. Nevertheless there will be 
branches of agriculture in which it may be found difficult 
and perhaps impossible to fix prices. In the case of 
perishable fruit and vegetables, for example, where prices 
may be difficult to adjust, we may have to confine our- 
selves to regulating, if need be day by day, the extent 
of supply in the various markets. Concentrating on our 
main object, the securing of a fair level of prices, we have 
to adapt our system to the special conditions that govern 
the various products. 

It is suggested that the preparation of price lists 
should be in the hands of a special authority or group of 

was one of the special difficulties that arose in the organisation of the 
marketing schemes. 

5 



66 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

authorities in which producers, consumers and the 
nation should be represented. The National Food 
Council referred to below is suggested for this purpose. 
The authority will have to approach the problem in a 
scientific spirit: putting aside all the theories advanced 
in the past by orthodox economists as to the value of what 
is called the "world price/' it will have to consider care- 
fully the effect of any particular price or scale of prices on 
our national life : it will have to find the figures that give 
the best economic advantage to the nation. 

The settlement of these price problems seems extra- 
ordinarily difficult if viewed as a theoretical problem, but 
most of these difficulties disappear when the subject is 
attacked as a practical problem by practical men who are 
well able to estimate results and suggest appropriate 
scales of prices. Moreover their settlement will become 
far easier if we are to have a parallel national policy 
directed to bringing prosperity to our industrialists and 
so develop the purchasing power of the towns : * we 
cannot, however, wait till this is secured; the development 
of agriculture must be our first step. 

The problem of prices has then to be considered 
scientifically by the price-fixing authority in its relation 
to its effect on (i) the producers, (ii) the consumers arid 
(iii) the nation as a whole. These three aspects of the 
problem will be taken in that order. 

From the producers' point of view the price-fixing 
authority should consider the need of sustaining the 

1 See Britain's Trade and Agriculture, by Montague Fordham, 
M.A., F.R.Econ.S. 



STANDARD PRICES 67 

industry in a high state of efficiency and providing a 
good living for the farmers and labourers who are engaged 
in it. Labourers have to be well paid, and it may be 
noted that the standard price system interlocks with 
the existing system of a legal minimum wage : the price 
of the product and the rate of wages should be considered 
concurrently. Taken together, these arrangements will 
go far to reconcile the conflicting interests of farmer and 
labourer. It will also be necessary to fix prices at a 
level which will enable farmers to pay rent, tithe and 
interest on mortgage or other loans (if they be burdened 
with these charges), to reduce progressively the debts 
that oppress them to-day, and make possible a rapid 
development of the industry, which will secure an 
increase in the national wealth and the absorption of 
many of the unemployed. It is constantly pointed out 
that farmers need increased credit. Standard prices give 
security for such credit. 

Next the price-fixing authority has to take into account 
the interests of the consumers, for it is obvious that the 
general level of retail prices should not be raised. Retail 
prices should be as low as is compatible with the rights 
of the producer, and this aspect of the problem has to 
be considered in relation to the* organisation of dis- 
tribution, for it is with the help of savings effected by 
such organisation that fair prices can be secured to the 
farmer concurrently with a reasonable level of retail 
prices. 

The third aspect of the price problem, its relation to 
the life of the nation as a whole^ is often overlooked. 



68 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

Here our price-fixing authority may well give considera- 
tion to the following matters, all of which depend in 
part on price-levels. We have first to arrange that 
farmers and labourers are sufficiently well off to be 
liberal purchasers of the products of industry. Further 
the authority should consider how we can secure, in 
developing agriculture, that it will absorb some part of 
the unemployed a matter of great economic importance, 
since by the absorption of the unemployed we can hope 
to effect large savings in our national expenditure. We 
have also to fix our prices at a level which will encourage 
production up to but not beyond the level of effective 
demand, a matter of great importance if we are to maintain 
a balance between supply and demand. Then we have 
to consider how far it is wise to go in our national interest 
in growing specific products at home. Wheat prices, 
for example, would be fixed at a higher level than the 
present if it were decided that it was to our advantage, 
as it may be, to grow, say, one-half of our own wheat 
supplies. The problem of sugar beet also may be 
considered from this viewpoint. 

All these problems interlock and require careful 
consideration if we are going to introduce an efficient 
system of price-fixing on which to base our economic 
life. We shall have to make experiments, and we cannot 
expect at once, if ever, to create a theoretically perfect 
system; for standard prices, though free from the 
disastrous effects of fluctuating prices, will be subject 
to the imperfections that beset all human endeavour. 
We shall have to be satisfied with the best arrangements 



STANDARD PRICES 69 

that we can make at once to relieve the farmer from the 
perpetual anxiety and the intermittent financial disasters 
that come from the variation of prices, and thereafter to 
improve and perfect the working of our schemes. Even 
when this is done, the farmer will still have to bear all 
the risks that arise from the uncertainty of the weather 
and the diseases of crops and animals, but he will be 
released from his main difficulty the uncertainty of 
prices; so relieved, he will be able to put all his energies 
into his true function the creation of the nation's food 
confident that, whilst low quality of his produce and 
inefficient grading will react on his prices, nevertheless 
industry and efficiency will secure a just reward. He 
will no longer have to spend his time bargaining about 
prices, with all the waste of time and money and degrada- 
tion of character involved. Grading of his produce and 
good packing will be definitely encouraged, since well 
graded and packed produce will fetch a better price. 
The accounting side of his business will also be greatly 
simplified. He will also be keen to get the advice and 
help of the scientist and all the knowledge he can obtain 
to make his land as productive as possible. His con- 
trolling motive will be to produce and market his 
produce in the best possible way. Two interests often 
conflicting under the present system will be reconciled: 
he will be producing for use as well as for profit. At the 
Isame time, since there will be no competition in prices 
between farmers, many may be willing to give assistance 
to others. Indeed standard prices will have the indirect 
result of breaking down the barriers between farmers 



70 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

created by internal competition in prices, and this will 
encourage collaboration and pave the way to the formation 
of the National Federation of Agriculture referred to 
later. 

In the initial period of the introduction of standard 
prices,, before distribution has been organised, subsidies 
may be needed; but State subsidies should not be a 
permanent feature, and indeed are necessary only in 
a period of turnover from one economic system to 
another. They should be looked upon as the cost of 
reconstruction l and, if given, should be arranged so 
that they are accompanied by an increase of employ- 
ment and so counterbalancing by national savings on 
Unemployment Benefit. 

Before leaving this branch of the subject, it may be 
noted that definite support for standard prices has been 
received from many leading agriculturists in this country 
and also from various agricultural associations. For 
example, the National Farmers' Union in December 
1935 issued a statement affirming that the best method 
of dealing with the live stock industry is "to agree on a 
Standard price for cattle, sheep and pigs of good quality 
intended for the meat market." The Council of the 
Central and Associated Chambers of Agriculture has 
gone further, for on the loth December 1934 it passed 
on the motion of the Lord O'Hagan, 2 seconded by Sir 

1 See Appendix, note 10. 

2 Lord O'Hagan, past President of the Chamber of Agriculture, 
past President of the British Dairy Farmers Association, Member of 
Council of the Central Landowners Association, and President of 
the Rural Reconstruction Association. 



STANDARD PRICES JI 

Patrick Hannon, M.P., 1 the following resolution: "That 
this meeting of the Council of the Central and Associated 
Chambers of Agriculture urges the Government to make 
the central object of its agricultural policy the securing 
to the British farmer a first claim on the home markets 
at a Standard Economic Price for the main articles of 
produce; and that all quotas, tariffs, control of imports, 
organisation of distribution and other action, if any, 
should be framed to secure that objective." 

The support for these proposals is not confined to this 
country. It is a world-wide movement. We find for 
example that, early in 1936, the Government of New 
Zealand had decided to introduce the standard price 
system wherever possible, and were beginning with 
fixing the prices of wheat, flour and bread. 2 

1 Sir Patrick Harmon has been Chief Organiser of the Irish 
Agricultural Organisation Society, Director of Agricultural Organisa- 
tion to the Government of Cape Colony, and is a Past President of 
the Central Chamber of Agriculture. Amongst many other offices 
he holds, at the time of writing, the Presidency of the National Union 
of Manufacturers, and is Vice-President of the Federation of British 
Industries. 

2 See The Times, loth February and 29th April 1936. 



CHAPTER VI 

ORGANISATION OF DISTRIBUTION AND 
PROCESSING 

(i) DISTRIBUTION 

THE national economic policy, adopted early in the last 
century, under which all restrictions on trading in food 
within our national boundaries, and all regulation of 
prices, were swept away, established the position of the 
intermediaries. 

The intermediaries whilst carrying on an important 
national service, did in fact pursue a policy of forcing 
down prices against the producer and raising prices 
against the consumer. It soon appeared that dealing in 
food was likely to be more profitable than its production : 
an excessive number of individuals then rushed into the 
business of distribution, and whilst the more able were 
very successful and so created prejudice against "dealers," 
competition amongst the distributors themselves caused 
impoverishment of a number of the less competent. 
Confusion was created. The outcome of the adoption 
of this system is seen to-day in the fluctuation of prices, 
and in the costly and often chaotic character of distribu- 
tion, reflected in a wide gap between producers' and 
consumers 5 prices. 

The trade of the middleman, from its nature, attracts 
men with a talent for bargaining; a supply of ready money 

72 



DISTRIBUTION AND PROCESSING 73 

(with which they can incidentally make short loans to 
farmers who are short of cash) is a necessary part of their 
equipment and it is their business to have a wide know- 
ledge of markets and prices. They are inevitably at an 
advantage in dealing with the majority of farmers, who 
are rarely commercially minded, seldom have reserves of 
cash, have only a local knowledge of prices and markets, 
and have little opportunity of studying the important 
question of the probable trend of prices. Indeed, if we 
except the larger farmers with special business capacity, 
there can be little doubt that almost all cultivators sell at 
a great personal disadvantage, and hardly ever secure in 
their sales even the full market price of the time. 

The expectation that low prices to the producer would 
be reflected in cheap food is rarely fulfilled, for though it 
sometimes occurs, it is defeated in most cases by the heavy 
costs of distribution. A detailed study of the methods 
employed in the sale of corn, stock, hay, fruit, vegetables 
and flowers, and indeed many other articles, will serve to 
illustrate this point. But it is not necessary to enlarge on 
it : the facts are well known and have been dealt with in 
detail by many authorities. 1 Whilst exhaustive examina- 
tion of the present methods of marketing agricultural 
produce has been carried out by the Ministry of Agri- 

1 See in particular Food, by Sir Charles Fielding, The Rebuilding 
of Rural England, by Montague Fordham, and The Bread of Britain, 
by A. H. Hurst. 

The Reports of the Departmental Committee on Distribution 
and Prices, presided over by Lord Linlithgow and issued by the 
Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in 1924, may also be consulted 
with advantage. 



74 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

culture and published in their Orange Books> no full and 
authoritative investigation of the costs of the present 
distributive system has been made; existing inquiries 
suggest, however, that the productive workers, i.e. the 
farmers and labourers, secure for their services and for 
such charges as rents, rates and taxes, tithes and interest 
on capital, only about 40 per cent, of the retail price; 
whilst if we eliminate these specific charges, they would 
probably be found to receive about one-third of the 
retail price for their productive services. 

Mr Ramsay MacDonald x in a special interview, so 
long ago as 1926, explained to the Press the agricultural 
policy he was then advocating when leader of the Labour 
Party; he was discussing the evil of the existing method 
of distribution, on which he made some illuminating 
remarks. "He understood," the Press report ran, "that 
distribution absorbed from 50 per cent, to 70 per cent, of 
the retail price : the farmer, therefore, rarely got half, and 
constantly much less of the price paid in the shops. This 
was far too small a share. The cost of distribution might 
well, he was advised, be reduced if we had a sound 
business system of distribution to, on the average, 
somewhere about one-third of the retail price." Mr 
Ramsay MacDonald was perhaps over sanguine; never- 
theless it is suggested that with scientific organisation of 
distribution and standard prices the producers' share 
might be raised from about 40 per cent, to something 
between 50 and 60 per cent, of the retail price. 

1 The Rt. Hon. J. Ramsay MacDonald, P.C Prime Minister of 
Britain, 1924 and 1929-35. 



DISTRIBUTION AND PROCESSING 75 

Mr MacDonald also attacked the problem from another 
side, the importance of which cannot be over-stated: 
"We have to look," he said, "to the savings in distribution 
to provide a fund for building up agriculture and rural 
life"; and again he said: "The waste in distribution is 
a reservoir to be drawn upon for the benefit of both 
producer and consumer." 

This problem has for many years been confused by an 
attack on the so-called middlemen. The intermediaries, 
the instruments of a system, perform, within that system, 
an important national service: they are carrying on a 
legitimate business on lines specially authorised by Acts 
of Parliament : they are in a very large number of cases 
men of special intelligence and capacity, engaged in 
making a living by a difficult business at a difficult time. 
Even if they deserved to be attacked it would be futile to 
do so, for we have to secure their help in the rationalising 
of distribution : this should not be impossible, as the more 
intelligent intermediaries of all classes are well aware of 
and, if they have public spirit, are profoundly dissatisfied 
with the present position. It will be more easy to obtain 
their help if a comprehensive agricultural policy is 
adopted: for it may be we shall then double our home 
production. Although there might be as a result some 
reduction in the number concerned in the trades in 
imported food, there would be little reason to reduce the 
number of distributors in the home trade; their turn-over 
would be increased, and so the cost per unit of distribution 
reduced, but not necessarily their actual profit. 

This is a problem which has been discussed for very 



76 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

many years : and on it there is a general agreement of the 
nature of the evil. But no action has been taken. It has 
been before the House of Commons on various occasions, 
and in February 1936 1 the following important resolution 
was adopted without a division : " That in the opinion of 
this House it is essential to the prosperity of British 
Agriculture and to the health of the community that the 
supply and distribution of agricultural produce be 
organised so as to encourage an increased consumption 
of home-grown produce and the employment of additional 
labour on the land and to eliminate the waste and loss 
which result from the present chaotic and costly methods 
of distribution." For many years governments, though 
recognising the evil, have feared to face the strong vested 
interests built up since the beginning of the last century 
and concerned in distribution to-day. But it should be 
faced in the spirit that is shown by business men in 
building up great commercial enterprises. 

We do not then suggest that a complete and comprehen- 
sive plan for distribution can be prepared by individuals. 
We are concerned with the more modest work of throwing 
light on the problem and indicating lines of practical action 
based on the investigations already made on the subject. 

Socialists are to be commended for facing the problem; 
they have proposed that distribution should be put into 
the hands of a special Government department somewhat 
of the nature of the Post Office, a form of procedure which 
appears to have been introduced recently into Germany. 
Such an organisation might work with great efficiency, 

1 See The Times, 2Oth February 1936. 



DISTRIBUTION AND PROCESSING 77 

but on the other hand it tends to shift responsibility from 
the shoulders of the distributors themselves on to officials, 
and a freer method with more opportunity for personal 
initiative is desirable. Other possibilities have therefore 
to be considered. 

Judging from the experience of other countries the 
marketing and converting of the raw products into food 
might be dealt with efficiently in this country under one 
of two methods. The first is to maintain in their present 
position the existing merchants, dealers and processors 
but to arrange, by agreement if possible, a certain measure 
of regulation in the scope of their business, their prices, 
and their margins of profit and so prevent overlapping 
and the other evils of uncontrolled competition. Such 
a method of regulation can be studied in Switzerland. 
The second method is to adopt one of the proposals 
(which appear to be based on modern developments of 
agricultural co-operation) put forward under such titles 
as "A Distributive Guild," "A Chartered Corporation," 
or " A National Co-operative Trust." All these proposals 
really reduce themselves in principle to the creation of a 
non-profit-making trust, and any of them might serve as 
conduit pipes to convey the goods from the farmer to the 
retail shops. We have adopted for this form of organisa- 
tion the title " A National Distributive Trust." 

It will throw light on such proposals if a study is made 
of the many schemes of this character that have been 
instituted in other countries during the last half century. 1 

1 See the publications of the Horace Plunkett Foundation, and also 
those of the International Institute of Agriculture at Rome. 



78 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

Here we may take as an example the methods employed 
in dealing with Danish bacon. For many years a large 
part of the export trade in Danish bacon to this country 
has been controlled by what is substantially a non-profit- 
making co-operative trust in which Danish producers 
and British retail multiple shops and possibly other 
retailers have been directly or indirectly represented. 
This organisation takes charge of the bacon pig when it 
leaves the farmer, converts it into bacon and by-products, 
selects the best quality bacon for the British market, and 
ultimately arranges its delivery to the retail shops in this 
country. The price to be charged to the retail shops 
has then been fixed at a standard rate by a special com- 
mittee sitting in London, and all Danish farmers have 
had credited to them, it is said, 75 per cent, of this price 
paid by the British shopkeepers. Our inquiries go to 
show that the shopkeepers' charges for selling Danish 
bacon are low. It seems then quite clear that in this 
case the producer, i.e. the Danish farmer, gets somewhere 
about 60 per cent, of the price paid by the consumer. 

There are, however, special points about the Danish 
experiment that deserve careful consideration. The 
Danish organisation happened to be started from the 
producers' end, with the support of the Danish farmers. 
Fixing on that special issue, agricultural co-operators 
have argued that this is the best procedure and that 
distribution should be organised by the producers. If, 
they have said, the Danish farmers have succeeded in 
organising their own distribution to the retail shops, 
why cannot the British farmers? This point of view, 



DISTRIBUTION AND PROCESSING 79 

widely advertised, has confused the whole problem of 
distribution in this country for a generation : it is therefore 
worth while explaining that the success of the Danish 
farmers as co-operative organisers of distribution arose 
from the fact that in exporting their surplus bacon to 
this country, they were building up a substantially new 
business. In this country, on the other hand, distribution 
is already completely organised, and farmers would have 
to undermine and destroy this organisation if they were 
to start on the Danish lines. The presence of established 
business organisations is one of several reasons for the 
failure of agricultural co-operation to deal effectively 
with marketing in this country. There is another point 
in the Danish organisation that deserves consideration. 
It was built up to capture the British market, and in order 
to do so it had to undermine first the British farmer and 
then other overseas competitors in the production of 
bacon. It was therefore impossible to fix and maintain 
a fair price between producer and consumer, for the 
price-fixing committee had always to see that their price 
secured sales in a competitive market. This made it 
necessary for them on occasions to cut prices, and that 
in its turn reacted on the unfortunate Danish farmer, 
Whose receipts might then fall below the costs of pro- 
duction, as indeed they have done on occasions in recent 
years. It is important to realise that an abnormal trade 
of this character does not rest on an economic basis, 
and is liable to be as disastrous to the Danish as to the 
British farmer. 
There are three lessons to be learnt from the Danish 



80 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

experiment. First, that the general form of their 
organisation is admirable; second, that whatever form 
of organisation is built up, it must be based on the 
maintenance of a fair standard price between producer 
and consumer; and third, that a similar organisation 
cannot be built up in this country by the farmers them- 
selves, since there is a distributive trading business 
already established. In relation to the third point it is 
also important to realise that the main distributive 
business of this country, the taking from the producer 
the product of his industry and consigning it to the 
town market or retailer, is a complicated matter, which 
lies outside the scope of farmers' organisations. The 
farmer's business is to farm, a whole-time occupation 
that requires constant and intensive thought, and unless 
farmers are prepared to concentrate upon it, they will 
not succeed. Distribution has to be undertaken in the 
main by distributors: it is an entirely separate matter 
from production. It is, as sociologists would say, a 
separate function. 1 Until this is . recognised we shall 
make little progress. 

If, then, we are going to solve the problem of dis- 
tribution, we have sooner or later to recast our present 
distributive system. It will have to function so that 
whilst those farmers who deliver direct to consumers 
are not unduly interfered with, and co-operative and 

1 Some authorities think that a National Distributive Trust should 
ultimately be brought within the control of the National Federation 
of Agriculture. On such a point there may well be differences of 
opinion; but, in any case, if there were two organisations they would 
have to work in close collaboration. 



DISTRIBUTION AND PROCESSING 8 1 

collective country markets controlled by the producers * 
for direct delivery, of special value for groups of small- 
holders, are encouraged, the part of the farmers' produce 
that is allocated to the town markets is collected and paid 
for at a fair price, and delivered as promptly as possible 
to the retailer or other consignee. At the same time 
it must be built up in such a way as to be freed from the 
motive that is now in the minds of all our intermediaries, 
the motive of buying as cheaply as possible from the 
producer and selling at as high a price as possible to the 
consumer. 2 It should be of the nature of a group of 
conduit pipes leading as directly as possible from producer 
to consumer. It must not dominate the farmers, as the 
distributive interests do to-day, but must work in con- 
junction with them. 3 The Post Office plays a similar 
part in the distribution of our letters, and all over the 
world complete or partial organisations generally labelled 
"co-operative" are organised for this purpose. 

Distribution is then the immediate problem that we 
have to face and solve. It requires, undoubtedly, far 
more investigation than it has yet received, and this 
cannot be undertaken by private individuals. The first 

1 See Appendix, note 1 1 . 

2 Some authorities argue that this involves the elimination of all 
profit from all branches of distribution. Co-operative experiments 
of the last half century in this and other countries go far to support 
this theory. Indeed it appears that it is only when profit-making is 
controlled or eliminated that distribution becomes effective. 

3 Pending the formation of a National Federation of Agriculture 
it may be desirable that farmers should organise themselves co- 
operatively for the express purpose of working in with the Distributive 
Trust. 

6 



82 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

step must come from Parliament and a possible line of 
action is suggested. Marketing Commissioners should be 
appointed to get into touch with the various merchants, 
dealers and other organisations responsible for dis- 
tribution and conversion of produce into food; they 
should prepare a scheme for drawing together and 
supervising the existing traders in a particular produce, 
or alternatively, for a complete organisation of a selected 
trade. 1 Whichever scheme were adopted, it would have 
to cover the whole ground from the farmer to delivery 
either to the retail shops, or to consumers' co-operative 
societies, hotels and other similar bodies that purchase 
direct for consumption: in dealing with organisations 
such as mills in the case of wheat, pork and bacon 
factories in the case of the pig trade, factories for the 
conversion of potatoes into flour or alcohol, and canning 
and jam factories in the case of fruit, the distribution 
may sometimes have to be regulated or organised both 
to and from the specific organisations concerned in 
converting the product into food. A scheme once 
prepared for any particular trade would have to be 
referred to Parliament for consideration and when an 
order had been made for its adoption, it might be returned 
to the Commissioners to draw the present intermediaries 
in that particular branch of distribution into the new 
form of organisation, which ultimately would form a 
part of the National Distributive Trust. 
A comprehensive organisation having complete 

1 Such action might possibly be taken under the Agricultural 
Marketing Act, 1931, section 15. 



DISTRIBUTION AND PROCESSING 83 

knowledge of the markets will be in a specially strong 
position. It will know where demand for any particular 
produce is most likely to be found and how surpluses 
can best be dealt with: and knowledge of markets will 
make it possible for good advice to be given on the extent 
of home production and the amount that should be 
imported from abroad. 

Here it may be noted that the introduction of standard 
prices varying in accordance with quality will greatly 
facilitate the organisation of the business of distribution. 
Indeed without a system of standard prices it may be 
impossible to organise distribution with complete 
efficiency, though no doubt a good deal could be done. 
In any case our object is to secure that transactions, 
which, under our present system go through the hands 
of half a dozen middlemen at various prices, will pass 
through one set of hands only, at a regulated price and 
under a system of scientific organisation of distribution. 
Control of imports and a certain measure of regulation 
of home production will also link up with and facilitate 
efficient distribution. Moreover, if the suggestions 
recommended below for dealing with imports be adopted, 
the purchase from abroad of what is required over and 
above home production could be placed in the hands 
of the National Distributive Trust. 

Some people may be frightened at the size of such an 
organisation. Let them consider the Post Office, the 
great co-operative organisations of the world, the multiple 
shops, and the elaborate organisations built up during 
the War. A big distributive business is, when once 



84 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

organised, just as easy to carry on as a small one: 
indeed perhaps it is easier. 



(ii) PROCESSING 

In certain cases, such as eggs, fruit and vegetables, 
food products are ready for consumption when they leave 
the farmers' hands. But in most of the more important 
branches of agriculture there is an intermediate process. 
Wheat, for example, has to be converted into flour and 
thereafter baked into bread, biscuits, cakes and so forth; 
the bacon pig has to be converted into bacon and its 
by-products; fruit not required for immediate con- 
sumption may be converted into jam or canned; surplus 
potatoes into potato flour or alcohol or food for stock; 
barley and hops into beer. 

In this country the converting of food and other 
agricultural products into the finished article (to which 
the name of processing has, as already noted, been 
given) has been left, in the main, to private enterprise. 
In other countries it is dealt with to a large extent by 
co-operative factories and other organisations, organised 
by cultivators, with Government backing in some cases. 
Certain co-operative consumers' organisations have 
also formed their own processing factories. It is the 
general rule that in such co-operative organisations 
profits are not permitted. 

We have therefore three methods of approach to 
consider: the balance of advantage seems to rest with 
the system that places processing in the hands of co- 



DISTRIBUTION AND PROCESSING 85 

operative or public utility societies, controlled by, or 
at least linked closely with, the farmers' organisations: 
that is treating processing as a branch of production. 

In any case, if agriculture is to be revived in this 
country, processing factories and workshops must be 
developed so far as is practically possible and brought 
into national schemes; in every district there should 
be the appropriate organisations, not competing with 
one another, for dealing with the farmers' output, whether 
it be treated for immediate consumption, storage for 
subsequent sale, or other purposes. 

The Government has taken, and is still taking, steps 
to deal with this problem in various ways. Sugar beet 
factories have been erected by private firms at agreed 
centres, with the support of Government loans, and are 
now being merged into a Sugar Beet Corporation; 
factories are being started by the Potato Marketing Board 
to deal with surplus potatoes, and by the English and 
Scottish Milk Marketing Boards for dealing with surplus 
milk. Further, the Government is, at the time of 
writing, supporting schemes for creating new bacon 
factories and drawing all such factories into a national 
scheme. 



CHAPTER VII 
REGULATION OF IMPORTS 

As it has turned out, nothing has been more disastrous 
to our economic life than the policy, adopted by this nation 
in the last century, of permitting food which we might 
produce ourselves to come in freely from all over the 
world. 

Its effect both in preventing expansion and even 
reducing the production of food at home, the creation 
of unemployment amongst agricultural workers, and the 
undermining of the home agricultural market for industrial 
products is, or should be, well understood. But these 
special disasters do not stand alone. The policy of the 
open market for food products, by creating in food 
imports a security for the payment of interest and 
dividends on foreign investments, made possible and 
immediately profitable the large scale exportation of 
capital. In a large number of cases this capital might 
have been employed with advantage to the nation in 
developing the wealth of our own country. Moreover," 
producers in other countries all over the world were 
tempted to turn their attention from the development 
of their own country, a disaster to their own national 
life, in order to produce food for sale in the British 
market. The ultimate result has been that in the struggle 
for this market the prices paid to the producers of the 

86 



REGULATION OF IMPORTS 87 

countries exporting to us have constantly fallen below cost 
of production : l the disaster, by impoverishing these 
producers, themselves prospective purchasers of British 
goods, has undermined some part of our export trade. 
A chaotic condition has thus been created. It will be 
difficult to introduce order, for various vested interests, 
already referred to, have been created which are 
definitely hostile to the firsts tep to be taken an agricul- 
tural revival in this country. 

Hampered by this highly artificial position we have 
now to persuade the country in its own interests to 
elaborate a new system for dealing with imports of food. 
In considering how this is to be done it is very desirable 
to have a clear idea of the underlying objects. 

Regulation of imports, in common with other trade 
regulations, should secure first that the producer, 
wherever he may be, is concerned to produce what the 
available market, represented by the consumer, actually 
needs; and next that production takes place in that part 
of the world which gives the greatest economic and social 
advantages. 2 Thus British regulation of imports should 
aim not only at developing home production but at 

1 "The price of wheat/' said Mr Walter Elliott, the Minister of 
Agriculture, in a speech delivered at Glastonbury in 1935, "was 
bringing ruin to the wheatland farmers of the world. The price of 
milk products was bringing bankruptcy nearer and nearer to the 
dairy farmers of New Zealand." 

2 It is natural that the country making regulations should consider 
its own nationals first, but in doing so they will constantly find that 
they are benefiting other nations. Disaster to both Britain and 
Canada have, for example, followed the maintenance of an open 
market for wheat. 



88 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

discouraging other countries from basing their economic 
policy on producing for our market the food that we are 
peculiarly adapted to create ourselves, and to turn 
wherever possible to providing what we are not suited 
to produce. The next problem that arises is to decide 
from which of the supplying countries we should secure 
our requirements, and we have here to consider whether 
it is beneficial to our national and imperial development 
to get the agricultural produce we cannot advantageously 
provide ourselves from our dominions and colonies rather 
than from foreign countries. 1 We have also to be certain 
that, whilst the British farmer should have the first claim 
an the home market within the limits of a fair price, the 
whole of the balance of food needed to feed our people 
is obtained from abroad. There must be no possibility 
of shortage. 

When we come to practical details of policy there arises 
at once the special point that confronts us in every 
problem that we have to face: are we to proceed by 
indirect or by direct action? Are we to rely on the 
indirect effect of tariffs or quotas or on direct purchase 
from abroad by a trust or under licence, of what we are 
not producing in our own country? 

The policy here suggested is based on a belief that 
only by direct action can we secure satisfactory results. 
How then shall we proceed? The first step is to make 
an estimate of our needs : for this purpose the Ministry 
of Agriculture or other authority would have to be 

1 This problem seems to be political and sociological rather than 
economic. 



REGULATION OF IMPORTS 89 

responsible year by year for an estimate of national 
needs and the extent of home production. With this 
information it would be possible to decide in detail what 
should be purchased from abroad. This should become 
easier year by year as experience helps us and home 
production increases. An authority acting on behalf of 
each section of the trade should then be responsible for 
securing from abroad whatever was needed to fill the 
gap between home needs and home production. 

We have next to consider the best method of action. 
We find that in certain other countries two alternative 
methods of securing this result are employed. The 
first gives permits to the existing importing merchants 
to import specific amounts up to the totals needed: the 
second is for a marketing board to undertake the 
purchases itself. 1 If a National Distributive Trust is 
created as suggested above, it is eminently desirable that 
it should purchase not only at home, but also from 
abroad: if any other method is adopted the goods 
acquired would have to be turned into the channel created 
by the Distributive Trust. The object is to ensure 
what economists call "a continuous equalisation of supply 
and demand/' that is, a regular flow of what is needed 
from the producers, whether at home or abroad, to the 
consumers. This can never be done with absolute 
perfection, but by developing storage capacities a 

1 See League of Nations Report of Economic Committee on 
Agricultural Protectionism, 28th May 1935: official number C. 178, 
M. 97, 1935, UB- The method of giving permits to importing 
merchants to purchase from abroad has been adopted, in this country, 
for potatoes, under the Agricultural Marketing Act, 1933. 



90 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

practical working scheme far nearer to perfection than 
our present methods could be built up. We have the 
experience of other countries and the results of recent 
experiments in this country to guide us, and also the 
profound knowledge of British merchants, who have 
always had this problem to consider. But it is essential 
to success that the action should be taken, not through 
political channels, but by the buyers of this country acting 
in direct contact with the sellers in others. 

If this became our national policy, it would be easy 
to give preference, after our home producers, to our 
colonies and dominions. It would also be possible to 
watch closely the effect of our policy on the exporting 
industries and regulate our plans accordingly. 

Such a policy would give a large measure of security 
to the producers in other countries, who would know in 
advance to what extent and at what price the British 
market would absorb their produce: well informed of 
what we were likely to require, they could plan their 
production accordingly. Thus from their lives the 
element of gamble would be largely eliminated. 

The price at which imported produce should be 
brought into the home market here arises and a tariff 
or levy can be imposed if desired : the tariffs or levies 
will then take their proper place in the national economy. 
It will be realised that the duties cannot be relied on to 
regulate efficiently either the bulk of supplies or price 
levels, and if imposed in the way that has been customary 
in the past, there is always a danger that they may be 
transferred to the consumer in higher retail prices. 



REGULATION OF IMPORTS 9! 

However, under the system of control recommended 
here, they could be used advantageously to provide a 
fund from which costs of administration of marketing 
schemes can be paid and money provided for any subsidies 
or other assistance to the home industry which may be 
temporarily needed to maintain home prices at the 
standard rate. 

If a complete form of organisation is created on the 
lines suggested above, whereby both home and foreign 
produce is purchased by the National Distributive Trust, 
the problem may well take a different form. The 
question of tariffs need not arise for the Trust could 
buy from abroad what was needed to make up the deficit 
in home production at the lowest price available in the 
world market. If this price were below the British 
standard price the Trust could put the difference to a 
special account available first for paying costs of ad- 
ministration, and then for subsidies or other assistance 
for home agriculture, or for reducing prices to the 
consumer. Alternatively the fund might be placed to 
reserve to be drawn upon if prices for imported food 
rise above the British standard price. 1 

The regulation of imports has little value in itself; 
but it fits into the general scheme for securing the 
position of the farmer and increasing home production 
and the creation of an economic unit. With its support 
farmers will be able to develop their work without 
being exposed to the dislocation of the market that may 
arise from the dumping or other imports of food from 

1 See The Rebuilding of Rural England^ by Montague Fordham. 



92 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

abroad. It also helps to maintain a balance between 
supply and demand and so makes possible the scientific 
organisation of distribution, on the savings from which 
so much depends. Only if imports, and so supplies, 
are regulated does the maintenance of standard prices 
in many branches of agriculture become a workable 
proposition, whilst in the case of agricultural products 
whose prices are not fixed it gives farmers a certain 
measure of security. It is an important part of a general 
scheme. 



CHAPTER VIII 
BALANCING SUPPLY AND DEMAND 

IN recent years the problem of balancing supply and 
demand has loomed large in the agricultural affairs of 
the world. It is constantly treated by economists as an 
international rather than a national matter. Our national 
policy should be directed to reaching an internal and 
national balance of supply and demand instead of allow- 
ing ourselves to be governed by an international balance 
which must fluctuate and is entirely outside our control. 

In Britain the problem takes a special and somewhat 
artificial form. It is not a simple and direct problem 
of balancing production and consumption of food within 
the country, but is to a large extent controlled by national 
policy, based on political and financial considerations; 
its effect has been that the producers of other countries 
have had what is substantially a first claim on the home 
market. Were it not for the dominating influence of 
this policy the British farmer could go on rapidly extend- 
ing his production in accordance with the needs of the 
nation. The regulation of imports will go some way to 
help us to deal with this special feature, but we have 
also to attack the home problem by direct action. 

This home problem can be regarded from four different 
points of view : the regulation of production, the expan- 
sion of consumption, the maintenance of a regular demand, 
and the utilisation of surpluses when they arise. 

93 



94 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

We will take first the direct control of production. 
Here it may be noted that in the last century it was a 
widespread practice for farmers' leases to contain 
provisions for controlling in one way or another the 
cultivation of the land; thus, directly or indirectly, the 
crops were controlled, and this practice is not unknown 
to-day. The older farmers at any rate are therefore not 
unfamiliar with the idea. 1 There would be little 
objection from individual farmers to limiting production 
of any particular article if profitable alternatives were 
suggested. As has already been mentioned, a basic 
cause of our immediate difficulties is that farmers, driven 
this way and that by the changes in prices, are constantly 
turning over from one form of production to another, 
and thus creating temporary over-production in that 
branch of agriculture to which they turn. The market 
is thus dislocated and in due course prices fall: the 
farmers then turn to some other branch of industry 
which tempts them for the moment. In recent years, 
for example, the expectation of relatively good prices 
for milk and the low level of fat stock prices has invited 
stock farmers to turn to milk production and has created 
many difficulties. A fair standard price for all the main 
articles of production will destroy the inducement to 
chop and change, and will make it possible to suggest 
to farmers remunerative alternatives and so make control 
of production an easier matter. This is a problem that 
can best be dealt with through a National Federation of 
Agriculture, when one is formed. Moreover for that 

1 Such control of production has recently been introduced into this 
country in the of case hops and potatoes. 



BALANCING SUPPLY AND DEMAND 95 

purpose a complete survey of the country is of primary 
importance, so that we may know how the land can best 
be utilised. 

The second approach to the problem of securing a 
balance between production and consumption is by the 
expansion of consumption. The development of agri- 
culture by increasing production, and so wealth, amongst 
agriculturists and those engaged in industries that are 
closely allied to, and provide the needs of, agriculture, 
in itself increases the consumption of food products, 
and so is a step in the right direction. Nevertheless, 
the main problem is the raising of purchasing power; 
the alternative, and still to some extent I popular, proposal 
of reducing prices to the consumer, with the object of 
increasing turnover, may well result in impoverishing 
producers by lowering wages or by unemployment 
following rationalisation of production. So, since 
producers are themselves consumers, it is liable to defeat 
its own ends. 

Certain financial reformers of unorthodox schools of 
thought are facing this problem. They suggest that, 
in the main, the evil is one of lack of money amongst 
consumers, and they recommend that special money 
issues should be made to consumers as such, in order to 
create a balance between production and purchasing 
power. This proposal cannot be discussed here, but 
it should not be dismissed without consideration. The 
State already issues, out of special funds, allowances to 

1 See for example the address given by Lord Elgin to the Annual 
Meeting of the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust The Times, 
6th March 1936. 



96 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

the unemployed and others which are largely used in 
increasing consumption. On the other hand, we visualise 
the general problem as one to be dealt with by raising 
the standard of living, and so the purchasing power, 
of the workers as a whole. It is certainly obvious that 
there are in this country millions of men, women and 
children, belonging to the ranks of the permanently or 
temporarily unemployed, who, living at a low standard 
of life, are suffering from malnutrition: they are all 
possible consumers of the food we can so easily produce, 
but their standard of life must be raised. They should 
certainly be consuming more eggs, milk, fruit and 
vegetables. Recent discussions about the consumption of 
milk have brought out some illuminating facts. Amongst 
poor families in many districts the consumption of fresh 
milk is negligible, whilst the English average con- 
sumption per head per week is only about 2| pints, as 
against 4^ pints in the Netherlands. 

Sir John Orr, 1 in an address given to the British 
Association for the Advancement of Science, in 1935, 
dealt with this problem : he said that there were 20,000,000 
persons in this country living below a proper level of 
health and energy. To attain the output needed to 
provide these individuals with the food they need it 
would be advisable, in his view, to increase home pro- 
duction of milk by 42 per cent., that of fruit and vegetables 
by 53 per cent., and that of butter and eggs by 25 per 
cent. He suggests that this involves an increase of 

1 Sir John Orr, D.S.O., M.C., M.D., D.Sc F.R.S., Director of 
the Imperial Bureau of Animal Nutrition. 



BALANCING SUPPLY AND DEMAND 97 

consumption of food of the value of 200,0005000 a 
year at retail prices. The increased production would 
bring perhaps half a million individuals into work. 
Sir John suggests, quite rightly, that money now paid 
to the unemployed might be directed to this pur- 
pose. It may be added that we should thus be sub- 
sidising employment instead of unemployment. Such 
proposals involve a complete change in the nation's 
economic policy, which, though it conforms with the 
theories that underlie this book, cannot be discussed 
at length here. But in our view the standard of living 
amongst our working population as a whole could be 
raised by applying to industry the functional method 
here advocated for agriculture. Meanwhile it should 
be observed that something is being done to develop 
consumption without a complete change of policy. A 
market for surplus milk has recently been found in our 
elementary schools, and the idea underlying this action 
has wide application. Why should not surpluses be 
definitely directed to use in other public institutions, 
such as workhouses, and in the army, and also maybe 
provided for the unemployed? This problem is being 
widely discussed at the time of writing and the Govern- 
ment has promised to consider what can be done. 1 

There are other ways of dealing with the surpluses 
that under any system must occasionally arise. We 
have to provide channels into which these surpluses can 
flow. Much can be done by the provision of granaries 
to store surplus corn, of canneries and cold storage for 

1 See Appendix, note 12. 

7 



98 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

surplus fruit and vegetables, of factories for turning 
potatoes into flour (one of the best forms of food), and 
milk into cheese and butter, and so forth. Moreover 
in some cases, particularly potatoes, we can utilise our 
surpluses as cattle food. 

Surpluses having been considered, the question of 
shortages will naturally occur to the minds of readers. 
Under the system here recommended there is little 
likelihood, except in case of war, of deficiency of supply. 
Nevertheless shortages of specific articles of food may 
sometimes occur, as they do to-day. The price problem 
may then have to be considered by the appropriate 
authority in relation to the special facts of each case, 
but in our view such shortages, if they affect the main 
necessities, should not be reflected in undue rises of 
retail prices. 

There is no possibility of creating and preserving 
absolute equality of supply and demand, but the balancing 
will be greatly helped if we can secure the maintenance 
of a regular demand. In the administration of the 
Agricultural Marketing Acts one of the great difficulties 
has been the variation of the consumers' demand for 
specific articles, especially bacon. These variations 
were found to arise from quite small changes in retail 
prices. The variations of demand would be reduced if 
wholesale prices did not themselves vary, in which case 
retail prices, and so demand, would tend to be uniform, 
and the evil would be almost entirely obviated if, as 
recommended elsewhere, retail prices were fixed con- 
currently with wholesale. 



CHAPTER IX 

FINANCE 

WE do not overlook the financial problem. We recognise 
that, as Mr McKenna, 1 a great banker, and at one time 
Chancellor of the Exchequer, said on one occasion, 
"They who control the credit of a nation direct the 
policy of governments and hold in the hollow of their 
hands the destiny of the people." 

To-day, in this as in almost every other country, the 
working farmers, large and small, are as a rule heavily 
in debt. In this country liabilities may extend not 
only to bankers, dealers and other middlemen, but also 
to a special class called " farmer-dealers," who combine 
farming, dealing and the lending of money to their 
fellows. 

It is clear that to-day the working farmers have, as a 
rule, little security to offer, if further advances are 
needed for development of their business. The in- 
stitution of standard prices and orderly marketing will 
in themselves create a security on which, it is hoped, 
bankers may be willing to make advances; it may be 
that with this security the bankers will be able to deal 
with the situation, if and when the revival of agriculture 

1 The Right Hon. Reginald McKenna, P.C., has held several 
Cabinet posts: Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1915-16. Chairman 
of the Midland Bank from 1919 to present date. 

99 



100 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

becomes part of our national policy. Alternatively or 
concurrently the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation and 
the Lands Improvement Company might be placed on 
broader bases and given extended powers. Another 
suggestion, favoured by some authorities, is that special 
agricultural credit banks, organised on the co-operative 
lines that have been so successful on the Continent, 
might be founded: these banks might work in close 
co-operation with the National Federation of Agriculture. 1 

Credit for development has to be provided under some 
appropriate system. But it is well to remember, as has 
been already stated, that increase of credit does not itself 
solve the problem of the farmer's money difficulties ; a 
farmer has to get out of debt, and this he cannot do by 
further borrowing unless the funds borrowed can be 
used for profitable enterprise. His debts have somehow 
to be reduced to a reasonable level. 

Finance will also have to be provided for new processing 
factories and the like, and for the purposes of the National 
Distributive Trust. Finally it may be pointed out that 
when a National Federation of Agriculture is created, 
it may require an appropriate financial system. 

1 See Appendix, note 13. 



PART THREE 

THE NATIONAL ORGANISATION OF 
AGRICULTURE 



CHAPTER X 

AN AGRICULTURAL FEDERATION AND 
A NATIONAL FOOD COUNCIL 

(i) THE AGRICULTURAL FEDERATION 

IT is hoped that three important things are now clear: 
the first> that the future of British civilisation depends 
on the revival of agriculture and its reinstatement in its 
proper position in our national life; the second, that 
this revival, if it is to take its true part in the solution of 
our national problems, must be directed to the absorp- 
tion into agriculture and related industries of those 
workers of all classes who cannot be employed through 
the development of overseas trade or in certain other 
forms of employment that might be developed with 
advantage to our national life; the third, that the economic 
policy needed to secure this result must be based on 
standard prices, the scientific organisation of distribution 
and processing, the regulation of food imports, the 
balancing, so far as possible, of supply and demand, and 
the provision of the necessary credit for development. 

We have now to consider the form of the organisation, 
and the nature of its directorate, that will secure the 
results at which we are aiming, for without an appropriate 
organisation and efficient directors we are bound to fail. 
We have to create a constitution for agriculture. It is a 

103 



104 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

strange thing that the idea of a constitution for the 
government of our economic life, though admitted by 
many sociologists and politicians of varying shades of 
opinion, has never been given a practical form. 

What form should the needed organisation take? 

It must be "functional," that is, formed with a clearly 
defined purpose and endowed with the necessary powers 
to carry that purpose out. We have also to bring the 
agricultural problem within bounds, so that control can 
be exercised. A problem has, of course, to be dealt with 
in relation to its surroundings, but it has also, for purposes 
of action, to be isolated. But this is not all. We have 
to obtain directors for our constructive work who have 
the knowledge of the subject and the power and interest 
to work out solutions ; for it is only when men of capacity 
who mean business come upon the scene that obstacles 
disappear and solutions are worked out. 

These three principles, the bringing of a problem 
within bounds that make control possible, the grant to 
the organisation of sufficient power to deal with details, 
and the provision of efficient directors govern all con- 
structive work whether it be on a large or small scale. 
One has seen them being applied to economic and social 
problems on a large scale by Mussolini in Italy, by Stalin 
and his associates in Russia, by Roosevelt in America. 
Such measure of success as Mussolini and Stalin have 
had in getting their policies adopted whether they be 
good or bad is immaterial to the point depended on 
their creating efficient organisations and securing effective 
control, and it was from want of these necessities that 



THE AGRICULTURAL FEDERATION 105 

Roosevelt has been constantly defeated. The principles 
are equally fundamental in minor matters. One can 
see them being applied by a business man building up a 
great commercial enterprise, or by a farmer managing a 
farm. The farmer, in particular, realises these essentials 
intuitively. His business being constructive and creative 
requires control. He has to get it "into his mind" and 
"under his hand," as he would say, and even then every- 
thing depends on continuous thinking and continuous 
action. All his work will be hampered and indeed may 
be undermined if, for example, his financial arrangements 
are not in his own control but in that of his banker, or if 
outsiders are entitled to rush in and spoil the market on 
which he depends to secure both a just reward for his 
work and the further funds needed to carry it on. 

At the present time there is no clear-cut controlling 
organisation that can direct a national agricultural policy 
either in general outline or in detail, whilst so far as there 
is any measure of control it is largely in the hands of 
politicians. There is no reason to attack politicians. 
They are doing extremely important work under con- 
ditions of great difficulty. In recent years (1932-35) 
agriculture and the nation owe a debt of gratitude to 
Mr Walter Elliott, the Minister of Agriculture, and the 
Earl de la Warr, 1 his late Parliamentary Secretary, who 
have attempted with great courage, though perhaps with 
insufficient support from the Cabinet and the agri- 
culturists themselves, to initiate and carry through a 

1 The Earl de la Warr 5 Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister 
of Agriculture, 1930-35. 



106 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

comprehensive agricultural policy. Where they have 
failed, the failure is largely due to the character of our 
political life and organisation. 

Nevertheless, whilst we are not ungrateful to politicians 
for what has been done already, and we recognise that 
at any rate the outlines of our national agricultural policy 
must be laid down by Parliament, it appears to us un- 
desirable that the working out of the detail of agricultural 
policy should rest with politicians. This opinion is 
based on the following considerations. The basic 
problems are economic and sociological rather than 
political, and in the economic sphere at any rate politicians 
are admittedly, with rare exceptions, not too well informed 
and have little time for intensive study. Then we note 
that political life leads to over-emphasis of the value of 
discussions, which in fact often degenerate into wrangles; 
as a result it constantly happens that questions that 
ought to be settled after a few hours of careful con- 
sideration, may be discussed in Parliament at great 
length and then adjourned, with the result that a settle- 
ment of immediate issues is postponed even from session 
to session. 

But there is another reason why political control must 
fail. Continuity of action is essential for success, and 
that can never be obtained from politicians. "Whatever 
one Parliament does," has said Mr Baldwin, 1 "it is in 
the power of another Government to confirm, to increase, 

1 Rt. Hon. Stanley Baldwin^ P.C Prime Minister of Britain, 
1923-24, 1924-29, 1935-36. For many years Leader of the Con- 
servative Party. 



THE AGRICULTURAL FEDERATION IOy 

to diminish, and abolish"; whilst Mr Lansbury l went 
further when he declared that "in future the Labour 
Party would have no use for continuity." Moreover it 
is not only that changes of policy come with changes of 
Government. The same Government may change its 
policy, or at least the detail of its policy, from one year 
to another. British agriculturists have, indeed, had bitter 
experiences of such changes of policy, both before and 
since the War. 

If, therefore, political control^ save over the outlines 
of national agricultural policy, is to be ruled out, we turn 
to consideration of the course suggested in this book 
which provides, it is to be hoped, the right solution. It 
is based on what is called in sociology "functionalism," 
that is, the art (or science) of organising for the essential 
purpose. It is what proverbial philosophy recommends 
with the phrase: "Mind your own business." The 
sociologist labelling himself a "functionalist" may well 
agree with the man of common sense who asserts that it 
is desirable to mind your own business. Both, if logical, 
may go on to agree that the farmer's business is to farm, 
that is, to develop production of food and other products 
on his land, and that the business of agriculturists as a 
community is similarly to develop and control production 
on the land as a whole for the advantage of the nation 
as a whole. 

We recommend then that a Federation of the agri- 
cultural interests should be entrusted with the work of 

1 Rt. Hon. George Lansbury, P.C., First Commissioner of Works, 
1929-3 1 ; Leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party, 193 1-35. 



IO8 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

restoring agriculture to its proper position in our national 
life. We are not, however, so sanguine as to suppose 
that any Government would create a Federation with 
the wide powers and responsibilities that are needed for 
this purpose. It is, however, possible that Parliament 
might be persuaded to institute a Federation with an 
advisory position and thereafter subsequent Parliaments 
might enlarge its powers and rights. Having made this 
reservation, we will consider the case for creating such a 
Federation and the work it should undertake. 

The first advantage of such a Federation is that 
explained by the late Lord Milner, 1 perhaps the most 
brilliant advocate of the functional method in modern 
times. "This method," he has stated, "places the 
onus of improving the conditions of the industry upon 
the people engaged in it instead of attempting to effect 
such improvement by external pressure." But this 
advantage does not stand alone. It must be well known 
that the want of a comprehensive authority representing 
agricultural interests with which Governments can 
negotiate has, in recent years, caused innumerable 
difficulties and delays, and rendered almost impossible 
the building up of an agricultural policy. The late Sir 
Basil Blackett 2 in his work entitled Planned Money 

1 The Rt. Hon. Lord Milner, K.G., b. 1854, d. 1925. Amongst 
many other posts this statesman held the office of High Commissioner 
and Governor of the Cape Colony in 1900 and was subsequently 
High Commissioner and Governor of South Africa. He was Minister 
of War, 19183 and Colonial Secretary, 1919. 

2 Sir Basil Blackett, K.C.S.L, b. 1882, d. 1935. Amongst other 
posts held by him was that of Director of the Bank of England. His 



THE AGRICULTURAL FEDERATION 109 

emphasised in this relation the importance of the 
functional type of organisation, to the State as well as 
to agriculture. He considered that agriculture, in 
common with other branches of economic life, must be 
organised "as a whole" and "must meet the Govern- 
ment" as "an organised functional" body "capable not 
only of receiving orders from the Government but of 
being entrusted by the Government with wide powers 
of co-operative action." These are the two main 
advantages of the line of action recommended. 

How then should such a Federation be formed? Unless 
we are prepared to appoint a dictator, a method entirely 
unsuited to our English tradition, we must depend on 
democracy; there is no compromise. If therefore we 
accept democracy, membership of the Federation should 
be broadly based, including all those cultivators who 
market their produce, and also the other workers on the 
land. It might also be extended to include the village 
craftsmen and other country people working directly for 
agriculturists. It might possibly with advantage include 
the directors and employees of village mills and local 
bacon factories and others concerned in converting 
produce into food. But the important thing is to draw 
'producers together into a clearly defined organisation. 

The Federation should be decentralised so far as is 
possible. There might well be elected District Corn- 
chief work lay in advising the British Government on finance in the 
years after the War; he was also at one time Finance Member of the 
Viceroy of India's Executive Council. Keenly interested in social 
problems, he was for some time President of the British Social 
Hygiene Council. 



110 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

mittees, who might appoint in their turn one of their 
members to a County Committee, which might in its 
turn select members from their number to a Central 
Council, the Parliament of Agriculture. The Central 
Council would be most likely to be effective if it were 
limited in number: one hundred members would be 
ample. The Federation might absorb certain of the 
present organisations dealing with agricultural problems, 
and also take over the work of the various Marketing 
Boards, and other Authorities formed recently under the 
Agricultural Marketing Acts; it might perhaps undertake 
the agricultural business of the County Councils. It 
could work through specialised Committees like a City 
or County Council. The Minister of Agriculture might 
be its President. It might be desirable to pay repre- 
sentatives, but even if this were so, the cost would be 
microscopic in relation to the issues; payment would 
help the position of those agriculturists who have no 
money to spare for public work, and so enable them to 
give time and energy to it. 

This form of organisation is suggested, but the 
suggestion is not made dogmatically: there may be 
better forms. There are, however, certain advantages in 
this form. It reduces elections to one, that of the 
District Committees, and it leaves it to those Committees 
and the County Committees to appoint the men they 
know to be suited to the job. It would also create vital 
local interest, and should win the general confidence 
of and support from the farmers and labourers and others 
concerned in the agricultural life of the country. It 



THE AGRICULTURAL FEDERATION III 

would draw together personal, local and national life, 
an essential if we are to make our people vitally concerned 
in national interests. It would put power into the hands 
of the people specially concerned with the problem, and 
so could hardly, like the politicians of the last hundred 
years, lose sight of the primary objective to obtain for 
agriculturists a price for their produce that will sustain 
the industry in a high state of efficiency. 

Something may next be said of the detailed work of 
the Federation when formed. 

How far such a Federation should intervene in the 
particular problems that arise out of our system of land 
tenure is a matter of opinion, and in any case cannot be 
dealt with here, but it should advise and possibly take 
action on such questions as electric supply, drainage 
and irrigation. But the production of what is needed 
to supply the home market should be its main objective. 
This can only be effectively dealt with after there has 
been a complete survey of the land of Britain as a whole. 
With this information before it, and a knowledge of what 
should be produced at home, it would be possible to 
advise farmers what they should produce in order to 
bring about, so far as possible, a balance between supply 
and demand. It might go further in some cases and 
exercise direct control over production. The problem 
of dealing with surpluses should also be dealt with by 
the Federation. Then comes the all-important problem 
of absorbing into agriculture and the closely related 
occupations a far larger proportion of our workless of 
all classes. Here, as has been already pointed out, we 



112 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

can do little so long as, on the one hand, our national 
policy is directed to bringing the greater part of our food 
from abroad, and, on the other, the marketing of the 
increased produce that will be created remains unsettled. 
However, the Federation when formed, whilst fighting 
for the development of agriculture as part of our national 
policy, should support all practical schemes for increasing 
employment on the land and for the extension of allot- 
ments. Agricultural education and research should also 
be fostered by the Federation. 1 

The relation of the Agricultural Federation to the 
nation remains to be considered. Here a specific 
suggestion is made. 

(ii) A NATIONAL FOOD COUNCIL 

Undoubtedly there is a real danger that a Federation 
of the agricultural interests will put the interests of the 
producers before those of the consumer and even of the 
nation; but national interests must ultimately control 
the whole situation, and those in their turn need a special 
form of organisation. On this something remains to be 
said. 

Ultimately all problems of trade and industry may be 
dealt with on lines similar to that here recommended fot 
agriculture, and an Industrial Parliament may deal with 
all agricultural and industrial questions. But the im- 
portance and value of such a line of policy is insufficiently 
understood in this country, and is viewed with suspicion 
by our elder statesmen, who have been brought up in a 

1 See Appendix, note 14. 



A NATIONAL FOOD COUNCIL 113 

different tradition. For the moment such a policy is 
therefore outside the sphere of practical politics. A more 
immediately practical proposal is the creation of a 
National Food Council to represent the interests of 
the nation as a whole, and to control our agricultural 
policy from the national point of view. 

On such a National Food Council, not only the Govern- 
ment, but producers and consumers and possibly other 
interests, should be represented. The Council should 
take ultimate responsibility for scales of prices and for 
minimum rates of wages which should be settled so far 
as possible concurrently. It should decide or at least 
advise the nation on how far we are to produce our own 
food and how far we are to import it, and exactly what 
food we should produce; that is to say, it should, in 
conjunction with the Federation, outline how much of 
the various products of agriculture wheat, meat, milk, 
poultry, eggs, fruit, vegetables and flowers should be 
produced at home and how much should be imported. 
It should further concern itself with the all-important 
problem of the increase of home consumption of home- 
produced food. Then the Council should see that the 
various parts of the problem are dealt with and solved 
Concurrently, so that, for example, the control of imports 
interlocks with home production, and the control of 
production and the methods of using and storing surpluses 
should connect up with distribution and processing. 

Acting in the national interest as a central controller, 
it would gradually, by continuous work, find a solution 
of all our agricultural problems. 

8 



114 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

A National Federation of Agriculture, acting in con- 
junction with a National Food Council, is then the form 
of organisation recommended to deal with our agricultural 
problems. 1 

Whilst the relations of these organisations to Parliament 
and the Government is a matter that would require a 
more exhaustive examination than can be given here, it 
may be observed that ultimate control of at least the 
outlines of national agricultural policy would undoubtedly 
for many years be retained by the Government of the day. 
The function of the Food Council, acting in conjunction 
with the Federation, would probably be to make recom- 
mendations to the Government of the day on the questions 
they were not empowered to deal with themselves, such 
as the extent of home production and imports; these 
recommendations might then be embodied in Government 
orders. 

1 See Appendix^ note 15. 



CHAPTER XI 
A FINAL COMMENT 

WE have been concerned to lay down in this book the 
main issues of our agricultural problem and to indicate 
a policy that will deal effectively with these issues. 
The policy has been arrived at after many years of 
continuous detailed investigation of rural problems in 
this and other countries. This investigation is the most 
comprehensive that has yet been made, and has been 
accompanied by study of various large scale practical 
experiments, in some of which members of our Associa- 
tion have taken leading parts, concerned with rural 
problems in this country, in Central Europe, in India 
and elsewhere. 

Though this policy has secured the opposition usually 
accorded in England to new ideas, it has been accepted 
in many of its details, and to some extent in principle, 
by three successive Ministers of Agriculture, 1 incorporated 
into legislation, and in part applied. There has been a 
considerable measure of success, whilst where there has 
been failure it has been due, we suggest, to the somewhat 
hasty and piecemeal methods of applying the policy 
rather than to the policy itself. We ask that this policy 

1 The Rt. Hon. Christopher Addison, M.D., Minister of 
Agriculture, 1930-31. The Rt. Hon. Sir John Gilmour, Minister of 
Agriculture, 1931-32, and The Rt. Hon. Walter Elliott, Minister of 
Agriculture, 1932-36. 



Il6 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

should be accepted as a whole. We do not mean that 
it can all be carried out at once; what is needed is a 
general plan of action applied in instalments. 

Finally we desire to say that the revival of agriculture 
is not advocated for itself alone. It leads naturally to a 
complete change of national policy, which will give new 
life to the material and spiritual growth of the nation. 



APPENDIX 

NOTES 

i. (i) NOTES ON LEGISLATION AND ON THE 
SCHEMES FOR MARKETING OF AGRI- 
CULTURAL PRODUCE CONFORMING WITH 
THE ECONOMIC THEORY AND PRACTICAL 
PROPOSALS PUT FORWARD IN THIS BOOK. 
See page 23 

Full information can be obtained by reference to the 
"Agricultural Register " issued annually by the Agri- 
cultural Economic Research Institute, Parks Road, 

Oxford 

The legislation and the schemes arising from it deal 
directly with (i) Sugar Beet, and (2) Wheat, whilst (3) 
The Agricultural Marketing Acts (1931-35) make pro- 
vision for the fixing of prices and the organisation of 
marketing of agricultural products in general through 
special schemes for specific products; these schemes 
are brought into operation through administrative orders. 

(i) Sugar Beet. The new policy in this case was 
initiated by the British Sugar (Subsidy) Act, 1925. The 
Treasury, under the provisions of this and subsequent 

117 



Il8 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

Acts, has made a contribution out of national funds, to 
the manufacturers of the finished product, i.e. the sugar 
factories. Concurrently, rebates have been given, by a 
preferential duty, on home-produced sugar. As the 
outcome of this legislation many sugar factories have 
been started throughout the country, some with the 
support of Government loans. A standard price as 
between factories and farmers is fixed year by year in 
accordance with an elaborately computed scale, after 
negotiation between representatives of the producers 
and the factories. 

The area brought under cultivation in 1935 under 
this scheme was 374,753 acres; the subsidy for the same 
year amounted to 2,775,000, and the rebate on excise 
duties to 2,438,000. 

The scheme at the time of writing (April 1936) is being 
revised and new legislation is before Parliament. The 
subsidy is now to be limited to 560,000 tons of white 
sugar annually. The factories are being drawn into a 
single corporation. 

(2) Wheat. The policy adopted in this case by the 
Government was initiated by the Wheat Act of 1932. 
This policy followed in its general outline the suggestions 
of the Rural Reconstruction Association, the bill being 
introduced into Parliament by the Minister of Agriculture 
as a proposal for securing "a Standard Price for Wheat." 

The Treasury under this Act distributes a subsidy 
a "deficiency payment" direct to such farmers as grow 
and sell wheat of a millable quality to the millers. The 



APPENDIX 119 

total amount of the subsidy is then collected by a levy 
on the millers and on imported flour. The millers 
presumably allow for it in arriving at the selling price of 
flour, which is fixed from time to time by arrangement 
in which the millers are concerned. The normal 
deficiency payments are at a flat rate per hundredweight, 
calculated to bring the total average returns to growers 
up to los. per hundredweight. But the amount of 
wheat on which the subsidy is paid is limited to 
27,000,000 hundredweights, with the result that when 
the total amount of the home-produced wheat coming 
under the scheme increases above that figure, the 
amount per hundredweight paid to individual farmers is 
reduced. 

The control of the administration is in the hands of a 
Wheat Commission. 

(3) General Schemes. A new line of policy that can 
be applied through special administrative orders to any 
agricultural product was initiated by the Agricultural 
Marketing Act of 1931. This Act, carried through 
Parliament by the Labour Government then in power, 
was, it is claimed, the direct result of many years of 
intensive educational work carried on by the Rural 
Reconstruction Association and its friends within the 
Labour Party. 

The main objective of the Marketing Act of 1931 and 
of the subsequent Acts that modified or extended it was 
the institution of Marketing Boards representing pro- 
ducers of specific products in order to exercise a 



120 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

measure of control over prices, production and pro- 
cessing, and also over the initial stages of the distribution 
of the specific products. Distribution as a whole is 
not deal with. 

The preliminary step (save in the case of hops and 
potatoes, where direct action was taken) was the ap- 
pointment of a Commission to study each specific 
problem. Such Commissions have been appointed to 
deal with Pigs and Pig products, Milk, Fat Stock, 
Poultry and Eggs; all these Commissions have reported. 
Thereafter schemes were prepared, based to some extent 
on the reports of the Commissioners. When these 
schemes have been accepted by the producers and by 
Parliament, the next step is to place their administration 
in the hands of specially constructed Marketing Boards, 
which are ultimately elected by the producers. Schemes 
have been prepared and Boards have been established 
to deal with hops, pigs and bacon, milk, and potatoes. 

Some measure of control of the administration rests 
with the Ministry of Agriculture. 

Various examples of the action taken by these Boards 
are given in the text. 

(ii) DIFFICULTIES IN ADMINISTRATION. 
See page 23 

Farmers and the public generally are puzzled as to 
the reason why these schemes work inefficiently in many 
details, and have to be constantly modified; why, as 
has been said, the method of "trial and error" was 
adopted. This confusion arose no doubt in part from 



APPENDIX 121 

the fact that a comprehensive scheme for dealing with 
agriculture as a whole had not been worked out in 
advance, and in part because various important aspects 
of the problem had not been sufficiently considered in 
detail. A study of the reports of the Commissioners 
will throw light on this subject. On such study it will 
be observed that these reports do not deal with many 
basic issues. They do not, for example, explain the 
exact principles on which standard prices should be 
fixed; they do not show clearly the relation of the 
organisation of production and the initial stages of 
marketing to the general problem of distribution : nor do 
they deal sufficiently with the question of equalising 
supply and demand. Dealing admirably with certain 
practical details, they avoid rather than face the main 
issues. Had the problem been fully faced by the Com- 
missioners as a whole, and appropriate provisions in- 
cluded in the schemes, many of the mistakes would have 
been prevented. The modifications in the schemes now 
being made at the instance of the Boards themselves or 
the Government should produce a better working system. 

2. AFFORESTATION. See page 31 

The importance of Forestry is not overlooked. The 
exact steps that should be taken and the area that could 
be dealt with is a matter for specialists : but it is generally 
agreed that there are millions of acres of land suited for 
afforestation, that very many thousands of men could 
be employed in the preliminary work, of whom a large 
proportion could be permanently employed. 



122 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

3. PARTICULARS OF THE IMPORTS TO THE 
UNITED KINGDOM OF AGRICULTURAL 
PRODUCE OF THE CHARACTER PRODUCED 
AT HOME, FOR THE YEAR 1934. See page 35 

million 

Wheat 27-6 

Wheat Meal and Flour . . . 3-1 

Other Cereals and Cereal Products . 10-5 

Total Cereals . . . 41-2 

Live Animals. Total ... 5-3 

Beef and Veal .... 22-3 
Mutton and Lamb . . . .18-1 
Bacon and Hams . . . -33*2 
Pork and other Pig Products . 5-0 

Other Meat 1-2 

Total Meat .... 79-8 

Butter 33-3 

Cheese 7-0 

Milk Products and Cream . -3*5 

Total Dairy Products . 43-8 

Fruit 9-3 

Vegetables 8-4 

Fruit in Sugar and Jam . . .5-8 

Flowers and Bulbs . . . .2-1 

Total Fruit and Vegetables . 25-6 

Eggs 8-9 

Poultry 1-7 

Total Poultry and Eggs . 10-6 



APPENDIX 123 

million 

Sugar (unrefined) . . . . 13-3 

Wool 37-1 

Beer 4-7 

Lard ...... 3-9 

Tallow 0-9 

Hides and Skins . . . .6-7 

Flax (not including Tow) . .2-4 

Total Sundries ... 18-6 

Total Imports of Products of a character 
which we produce in the United 
Kingdom 275,300,000 

Extracted from the "Annual Statement of the Trade 

of the United Kingdom,, 1934," Vol. ///, and from 

the "Accounts relating to Trade and Navigation of 

the United Kingdom^ December 1935 " 

4. EMPLOYMENT ON THE LAND. See page 35 

Much discussion has arisen on the recent reduction 
of the number of workers on the land. Though to some 
extent this reduction arises from the use of machinery 
and the rationalisation of the various processes of agri- 
culture, it is in part due to the impoverishment of farmers, 
who are constantly forced to cut their labour bill to the 
lowest possible figure. 

On the other hand the reduction of workers who come 
under the heading of agriculture in census and other 
reports may be counterbalanced by an increase of 



124 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

workers engaged in preparation of feeding stuffs and 
fertilisers and in dairy work, jam making and so 
forth, and also in transport. In former days, and 
to some extent in recent times, the corresponding 
workers would have been classified as agriculturists, 
since the work of this character was largely done on the 
farms. 

It should also be noted that there are in country 
districts large numbers of individuals who, though 
cultivating the land in conjunction with other occupa- 
tions, are not classed as agriculturists. 

The cost in unemployment benefit, arising from the 
agricultural decadence, of keeping 1,000,000 workers 
out of employment is computed at 50,000,000 a year. 

5. IMMEDIATE DEVELOPMENT OF FOOD 
PRODUCTION. See page 41 

It is a matter for specialists to decide exactly which 
branches of agriculture should be dealt with first. The 
development of pork and bacon, milk, butter and cheese, 
poultry and eggs, fruit and vegetables, appears to be of 
immediate importance. Wheat production may well be 
extended where land and climate are suitable, if it be 
only to secure our position in case of war, whilst rye 
could be grown on land that is not suited for wheat. 
There are also clearly possibilities of increasing our 
supplies of stock and of sheep. Flax growing might 
be developed in suitable areas. How far the growing 
of sugar beet should be extended is a matter of 
opinion. 



APPENDIX 125 

6. INCREASE OF PRODUCTION IN ITS 
RELATION TO COSTS. See page 41 

Some economists argue that increase of output will be 
accompanied by increase in the cost of production; others 
take the opposite view. Under the standard price system 
the point does not dominate the situation, for farmers 
will produce what it pays them to do within the limits 
of the standard price, and the balance comes in from 
abroad at the lowest price available. 

7. THE SHIPPING PROBLEM. See page 45 

Analysed from the point of view of economics, shipping 
appears as a distributive rather than as a directly pro- 
ductive occupation. It is not arguable that the mere 
moving of goods backwards and forwards across the 
seas, though it gives employment to both men and 
capital, has in itself an economic value. 

We have, however, to face the fact that if we develop 
agriculture and reduce imports on a large scale there may 
be unemployment in shipbuilding, and also amongst 
sailors and dock labourers. 

The exact effect of developing agriculture on the 
shipping industry is one of the problems that requires 
full investigation. Such inquiries as we have been able 
to make show that if we were to reduce the imports of 
food by the absolute maximum of 200,000,000 a year, 
the number of men employed in all branches of the 
industry (including dock labourers) could hardly be 



126 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

reduced by more than 100,000 as against a computed 
increase of 1,000,000 in agriculture and further possible 
gains in related industries. 



8. PAYMENT OF INTEREST AND DIVIDENDS 

ON FOREIGN INVESTMENTS IN AGRI- 
CULTURAL PRODUCE OF THE CHARACTER 
THAT WE PRODUCE IN THIS COUNTRY. 
See page 45 

This is a question on which complete investigation 
has yet to be made. It may, however, be here noted 
that a large part of the agricultural imports that come 
from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Argen- 
tine, countries where we have large investments, are 
utilised to pay the interest and dividends on such 
investments. 

9. THE COMMON INTEREST OF PRODUCERS 

AND CONSUMERS. See page 59 

It is constantly stated that there is a conflict of interest 
between producers and consumers in regard to prices, 
and much of our national economic policy is based on 
this alleged conflict. Nevertheless, though the state- 
ment is to some extent true the conflict is not irrecon- 
cilable. Whilst the consumer is not necessarily a 
producer, the producer is always a consumer. For 
such producer-consumers there is a basic interest to 
secure a fair return to the worker for his work and only 



APPENDIX 127 

so far as it is compatible with this, the lowest price 
to the consumer. This applies equally to food and 
other goods that are of the nature of necessities. This 
basic interest is in harmony with the interest of the 
State of which the policy should be to keep the 
population employed with a fair remuneration for their 
work. 

10. SUBSIDIES. See page 70 

Subsidies in their present form are in effect a transfer 
by the State from one section of the community to 
another of wealth that can, in the view of the State, be 
employed by the recipients to the advantage of the nation. 
Subsidies to agriculture at the present time may be 
defended on the ground that they result in an increase 
of national wealth, and so incidentally spread and lighten 
the burden of taxation, and also as a means of increasing 
employment and so reducing the costs of unemployment. 
Defenders of this point of view say: "We prefer to 
subsidise employment rather than unemployment/' If 
subsidies are looked at from this viewpoint, it is im- 
portant to be sure that they will have the exact effect 
claimed for them, and that there is a nett gain. 

Subsidies may be paid out of general taxation, by 
tariffs or levies, or out of reserve funds arising from the 
purchase of agricultural products from abroad below 
the standard national rate. Economists of the orthodox 
schools usually advocate that they should be paid out 
of general taxation. But they certainly should not be a 
permanent necessity for agriculture, as the savings that 



128 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

will be effected by the scientific organisation of dis- 
tribution will provide a sufficient fund to put production 
on a sound economic basis. 

Temporary subsidies may also be defended as they 
are in the text as a means of paying the cost of change 
over from one economic system to another. 

At the present time it might be advantageous, as 
Professor Stapledon suggests, to employ subsidies for 
land reclamation. They might also be given with 
advantage to aid the distribution of surpluses to the 
unemployed and other impoverished classes by sale at 
a reduced retail price. 

n. COLLECTIVE AND CO-OPERATIVE 
MARKETING, ETC. See page 8 1 

In any organisation of distribution it is important from 
the point of view of efficiency and economy to see that 
the local purchasers have a first claim on the output of 
the locality. Here collective or co-operative markets, 
as advocated, and being instituted in some cases by the 
Land Settlement Association, the Collective Country 
Markets Association and the Women's Institutes, in 
which groups of local producers sell their products direct 
to consumers in markets in small towns and other suitable 
centres, are of considerable value and might well be 
extended : they are of special importance in connection 
with new schemes of land settlement. Such markets 
are carried on at a very low cost in relation to the turn- 
over. Twenty-five per cent, is suggested as a fair com- 
mission to cover expenses on sales. Markets might also 



APPENDIX 129 

be founded with advantage in the boroughs and suburbs 
of London and other great cities. Direct delivery from 
farmers to customers especially common in the milk 
trade might well be retained within the general scheme 
of distribution, though price competition in a local area 
should not be permitted. This principle is already 
accepted in the milk trade. 

12. SALE OF SURPLUSES. See page 9? 
In the fruit and vegetable trades to-day, in many 
markets, surpluses are sold to costermongers at purely 
nominal figures and are then retailed at very low prices 
in the poorer quarters of the towns. 

13. CONTROL OF FINANCE.* See page 100 

Some students of this subject, who are of opinion that 
a basic evil in our economic system is the subjection of 
producers to financiers, consider that it is desirable that 
the Federation of Agriculture should control its own 
banking system. 

14. THE WORK OF THE AGRICULTURAL 
FEDERATION.* See page 112 

Some writers on this subject have argued that the 
main advantage of an Agricultural Federation will be 
that the Federation will be able to deal conjointly with 

* The Association is in no way committed to the special views 
set out in notes 13, 14 and 15. The opinions there expressed are put 
forward as matters of interest. 

9 



130 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

the triple problem of the increase of machinery and 
rationalisation, the reduction of hours of labour, and 
the raising of rates of wages. By this means it may be 
possible to secure that such increase of machinery and 
rationalisation is not reflected in the creation of un- 
employment but in reduction of hours of labour and 
raising of wages. 

15. THE FUTURE OF AGRICULTURAL 
ORGANISATION.* See page 114 

Some students of this subject suggest that the whole 
problem of land tenure and food production can be dealt 
with, with the greatest advantage to the producer and 
the greatest economy to the consumer, through a com- 
prehensive policy based on vesting the land in the 
community and organising agriculture as a whole as a 
public service. They suggest that if such a policy were 
adopted the present-day framework of agricultural 
production could be preserved and yet a greater measure 
of freedom secured to the individual than he attains 
to-day under the pressure of competitive forces which 
he can neither understand nor control. This proposal 
is supported by a suggestion that at the head of such an 
agricultural service, elected and promoted from it, 
should stand a directing council and thus agriculture 
would be controlled by men and women who having 
been right through the ranks from student or labourer 
to farmer or district manager will be set free from other 
duties to attend to the guiding and representing of the 
whole industry. 



NOTE 

The Executive Committee of the Rural Reconstruction 
Association, Le Play House, 35 Gordon Square, London, 
W.C. i, who take responsibility for the issue of this book 
consists of: 

The LORD O'HAGAN, President of the Association. 
Mr MICHAEL BEAUMONT, M.P., Chairman of Council. 
Mr TRISTRAM HART, Treasurer. 

* Mr MONTAGUE FORDHAM, Council Secretary. 
Mr E. EPEY LANE. 

* Miss O. LLOYD-BAKER. 
Mrs HERBERT MUSGRAVE. 
Mrs ARTHUR PENTY. 

* Mr C. RUSSELL SCOTT. 

* Mr C. F. STRICKLAND. 

* Members of the Drafting Committee. 

The Committee wish to express their thanks to Miss 
Ruth L. Cohen, M.A., of the Agricultural Economics 
Research Institute, Oxford, who, notwithstanding that 
she is not altogether in agreement with the views of the 
Committee, has kindly given great help both through 
'her criticisms and the preparation of facts and figures. 

This book has been prepared with every possible 
care ; if errors have crept in, we welcome correction. 



131 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 

(i) Reports 



Page of present 

work on which 

each report is 

referred to 



Accounts relating to Trade and Navigation of 

the United Kingdom . . . , 123 

Annual Statement of the Trade of the United 

Kingdom . . . . . . 123 

Astor, Lord, and Mr Seebohm Rowntree: 

Committee's Report . . . . 29 n. 

Carnegie Trust : Mr Menzies-Kitchin's Report 29 n. 

Central Chamber of Agriculture : Policy Com- 
mittee's Report . . . . . 36 n. 

Horace Plunket Foundation : Reports . . 77 n. 

International Institute of Agriculture : Reports 77 n. 

League of Nations : Reports . . . . 89 n. 

Linlithgow Committee : Report . . . 73^- 

Marketing Commissions : Reports. . . 1205^. 

National Association of British and Irish 

Millers: Report . . . . . 51 n. 

National Guilds League: Committee's Report. 22 

Orange Books on Marketing: Ministry of 

Agriculture's Reports . . . 23 n. y 74 

Rural Reconstruction Committee : Report . 22, 38 w. 

Selborne, Lord: Sub-Committee's Report . 36 n. 

133 



134 THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 

(ii) Books 

Page of present 

work on which 

each book is 

referred to 

Agriculture Register, The: Agricultural Eco- 
nomics Research Institute . . . 117 

Agriculture after the War: Sir Daniel Hall . 37/2. 

Agriculture and the Guild System: Issued by 

The National Guilds League ... 22 

Agricultural Dilemma, The: Issued by Lord 

Astor and Mr Seebohm Rowntree . . 29 n. 

Bread of Britain, The: A. H. Hurst . . 73/2. 

Britain's Trade and Agriculture: Montague 

Fordham . . . . . . 66 n. 

Food : Sir Charles Fielding . . . . 37 n., 73 n. 

Land, The: Now and To-morrow: Professor 

Stapledon 32 n. y 37 n. 

National Rural Policy, A: Issued by the Rural 

Reconstruction Committee . . .22 n., 38 n. 

Nemesis of Nations : Paterson . . . 49 n. 
Planned Money : Sir Basil Blackett . . 108 

Rebuilding of Rural England, The : Montague 

Fordham 73 n.> 91 n. 



INDEX 



ADDISON, CHRISTOPHER, 115. 

Afforestation, 31, 121. 

Agricultural Economics Research 
Institute, 117, 131. 

Agricultural imports and out- 
put, value of, 35, 122, 

Agricultural Marketing Acts, 23 
seq., 59 seq., 82 n., 89 n., 98, 
no, 117 seq. 

Agricultural Mortgage Corpora- 
tion, 100. 

Agricultural Organisation, future 
of, 130. 

Agricultural Organisation Soc- 
iety, 21. 

Allotments, 40, 41 n., 44, 112. 

Argentine, the, 38, 126. 

Australia, 126. 

BACON, 24, 37, 42, 60 seq., 64 n., 
78 seq., 82, 84 seq., 98, 109, 
120, 122, 124. 

Baldwin, Stanley, 106. 

Banks and bankers, 15, 17, 19. 

Brereton, Dr Cloudesley, 42. 

British Association for the Ad- 
vancement of Science, 96. 

CALVIN, 17. 
Canada, 87 n., 126. 
Carnegie Trust, 29 n., 95 n. 
Central Chamber of Agriculture, 

70 seq. 

'Chartered Co-operation,' 77. 
'Cheapness, in food,' 28, 38, 73. 



Climate and weather, 39 seq., 

69, 124. 

Cohen, Miss Ruth L., 131. 
Collective Country Markets 

Association, 128. 
Collective markets, 81, 128. 
Colonies, 88, 90. 
Commissions and commission- 
ers, 50, 82, 117, 119 seq. 
Commodity standard of money, 

62 n. 
Consumption. See Production 

of food, etc. 

Continuity of action, 64, 106 seq. 
Co-operation and co-operators, 

21, 29, 50, 61, 77 seq., 81, 

83 seq., 100, 128. 
Corn Laws, 19. 
Costermongers, 129. 

DANISH and Denmark, 78 seq. 

de la Warr, Earl, 105. 

Demand. See Supply and de- 
mand. 

Distribution, control and organi- 
sation of, 12, 15, 18, 21, 37, 
38, 72 seq., 92, 103, 120, 127. 

Distributive Trust, National, 77, 
80 n., 82 seq., 89, 100. 

Dominions, 38, 45 seq., 88, 90. 

Drainage, 32, 39, in. 

ECONOMIC, Crises, 25, 30, 49; 
Life, balanced, 26, 32; Unit, 
50> 53. 9i. 



135 



I 3 6 



THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 



Economist, The, 36. 

Eggs and poultry., 37, 64, 84, 96, 

113, I20y 122, 124. 
Electricity,, 32, in. 
Elgin, Lord, 95. 

Elliott, Walter, 23, 87 n., 105, 115. 
Emigration, 21 seq. 
Enclosures, 15, 18. 
Exporters, attitude of, 45. 

FAMILY allowances, 18. 

Farms, large or small, 27. 

Federations, 13. See also 
National Federations. 

Finance and financiers (including 
credit, etc.), 13 seq., 17, 19 seq., 
21, 28 seq., 30, 38, 53, 56 seq., 
62 seq., 67, 99 seq., 105, 126, 
129. See also Investments. 

Free Trade, 19 seq., 50 seq. 

Functionalism, 13, 28, 97, 104 
seq., 107 seq. 

GERMANY, 76. 

Gilmour, Sir John, 115. 

Grading, 56, 69. 

Granaries, 43, 97. 

Guilds and guild system, 13. 

HANNAN, SIR PATRICK, 71. 

Holidays and holy days, 13 seq., 
16. 

Home production. See Produc- 
tion of food, etc. 

Hops, 24, 60, 64, 84, 94 n., 120. 

Horticulture, 31. 

House of Commons, resolution 
of, 76. 

ILIFFE, LORD, 36. 

Import duties and tariffs, 18 seq., 

24, 50 seq., 55^ 62 seq., 71, 90. 

127. 



Imports, agricultural, 35, 38, 39, 
45 seq., 50, 63 seq., 86 seq., 92, 
113, 122 seq.; To pay divi- 
dends, etc., 38, 45 seq., 126.; 
Control and regulation of, 12, 
15, 21, 56, 63, 71, 83, 86 seq., 
92, 93, 103, 113. 

Intermediaries. See Middlemen. 

Investments abroad, 38, 45, 86, 
126. 

Irrigation (and water supply), 32, 
39, in. 

LABOUR PARTY, 74, 107, 119. 

Laissez-faire policy, 28. 

Land Club Union, 21. 

Land reclamation. See Reclama- 
tion of land. 

Land settlement, 12, 21 seq. 
29 n., 43 seq., 128; Associa- 
tion, 128. 

Land tenure, 57 seq., in, 130. 

Lands Improvement Company, 
100. 

Lansbury, George, 107. 

Levies, 90, 119, 127. 

MACDONALD, RT. HON. J. 

RAMSAY, 74. 
Machinery and equipment, 32, 

39, 123, 129. 
Marketing Acts. See Agricultural 

Marketing Acts; Boards, 61, 

62 n., 85, 89, no, 119 seq.; 

Schemes, 23, 65 n., 91, 120 seq. 
Markham, Gervoise, 16. 
McKenna, Reginald, 99. 
Middlemen and intermediaries, 

72 seq., 81, 83, 99. 
Milk, 24, 37, 60 seq., 64, 85, 94, 

96 seq., 113, 120, 122, 124, 

128 seq. 



INDEX 



137 



Milner, Lord, 108. 

Ministry of Agriculture, 35 n.y 

73, 88 3 105, no, 120. 
Money issues, 95. 
Money values, changes in, 51, 62. 
Moryson, Fynes, 14, 16. 
Mussolini, 104. 

NATIONAL Farmers' Union, 70. 

National Federation of Agricul- 
ture, 55, 57, 80 n.y 8 1 n.y 94 3 
100, 103 seq.y 129. 

National Food Council, 55, 57, 
66, 103 seq.y 112 seq. 

New Zealand, 71, 87 n.y 126. 

O'HAGAN, LORD, 70. 
Orr, Sir John, 96 seq. 
Ottawa Conference, 23. 
'Over-production,' 14, 17, 94. 

PLANS and planning, 12, 43 
50 seq. 

'Political Economy,' 25 seq. 

Population, agricultural, 35, 41 
seq., 123 seq. 

Potatoes, 24, 37, 62 ., 82, 
84 seq.y 89 n.y 94 n.y 98, 120. 

Poultry. See Eggs. 

Preferences, Empire, 24, 90. 

Price, levels, 18, 28, 68, 90; lists, 

. 64. 

Prices, fixed and regulated, 12, 
15, 18, 22, 55 seq.y 60 seq.y 
Fluctuating, 18 seq.y 56, 62, 
68 seq.y 72; 'The just,' 15, 18, 
21 ; Retail, 37, 41, 63, 67, 
74 seq.y 90, 98, 128; Standard,, 
15, 21, 56 seq.y 59 seq.y 74, 78, 
80 seq.y 91 seq.y 94, 99, 103, 
118, 121, 125; 'World,' 66. 



Producers and consumers, com- 
mon interest of, 54, 59, 126 
seq. 

Production of food, etc., control 
of, 56, 62, 93 seq.y for use, 69; 
Home, 34 seq., 41. 45 seq., 50, 
56 3 63, 75 seq.y 82 seq., 86 seq.y 
113, 1245^. 

Purchasing power, 95 seq. 

QUOTAS, 53, 55, 62, 71, 88. 

REALISM, 12 seq.y 16, 21, 26, 29. 

Reclamation of land, 32, 41, 128. 

Research, etc., 29, 40 seq.y 69, 
112. 

Roosevelt, 104. 

Rural Reconstruction Associa- 
tion, 5, 23 seq.y 42, 70 n.y 115, 
118 seq.y 130, 131; Committee, 
21 seq., 38. 

Russell, Sir John, 41. 

SHIPPING interests, 45, 125. 
Shortages, 53, 56, 88, 98. 
Small holders and holdings, 44, 

81. 

Smith, Adam, 18. 
Socialists, 76. 
Soil, 39 seq. 
Stalin, 104. 
Standard, of life and health, 27, 

34, 96 seq.y prices. See 

Prices. 

Stapledon, Professor, 128. 
Stock, 24, 65, 70, 73, 94, 120, 124. 
Storage, 43, 85, 89, 97, 113. 
Subsidies, 24, 45, 70, 91, nj seq.y 

127 seq.y exporting, 51. 
Sugar and sugar beet, 59 seq., 

64, 68, 85, 117 seq., 123, 124. 



I 3 8 



THE REVIVAL OF AGRICULTURE 



Sugar Beet Acts, 117. 

Supply and demand, 12, 20, 50, 

53> 55 seq., 62 seq., 68, 89, 

93 seq., 103, in; Law of, 

20. 
Surpluses, 44 seq., 53, 56 $*., 93, 

975*2., in, 113, 129. 
Survey ,"95, in. 
Switzerland, 77. 

TARIFFS. See Import Duties. 

Taxation and taxes, 53, 74, 
127. 

Tithe, 67, 74. 

Trade, Agreements, 24, 46; con- 
structive and destructive, 18, 
28. 



UNEMPLOYMENT, n seq., 22, 
26 seq., 30 seq., 38 seq., 43 seq., 
67 seq., 70, 86, 95 seq., Ill, 
121, 123 seq., 127. 

WAGE, regulation and fixing of, 

12, 15, 18, 21 seq., 38, 129; 

Minimum, 18, 67, 113. 
War and food supplies, 42 seq,, 

98. 
'Wealth,' meaning of, 25 seq., 

29, 52. 
Wheat, 15, 19, 24, 37, 43, 59 seq., 

65* 68, 71, 82, 84, 87 n., 113, 

117 seq., 122. 

Wheat Act, the, 23, 60, 118 seq. 
Women's Institutes, 128, 



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"Regarded as a basis for a new economic system, the theory 
that all land belongs to the community can be made to lead 
to some extremely interesting suggestions, as the author of 
this book shows. ... A change to such a system might not 
prove as drastic as it seems, and the author has courageously 
supplied a practical and detailed scheme for the introduction. 
. . . The book contains many incidental points of interest." 
Times Literary Supplement. 

LONDON: GEORGE ALLEN & UNWIN LTD.